How Bob Iger changed Disney's reputation for market magic

Disney shares have soared 371 percent since Iger was named CEO

Disney CEO Bob Iger began his ride into the sunset Tuesday after nearly 15 years at the helm of the entertainment giant, but he's leaving investors with magical memories, from the acquisition of the lucrative "Star Wars" franchise to a four-fold gain in the company's market value.

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Iger, who was succeeded by parks, experiences and products chief Bob Chapek effective immediately, will hold the title of executive chairman through 2021.

DISNEY NAMES BOB CHAPEK CEO; IGER TO CHAIR BOARD THROUGH 2021

The 69-year-old's legacy includes major purchases from Pixar to Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox's entertainment properties and Hulu. The transactions, which cost over $114 billion, transformed Disney into a media juggernaut:

  • Pixar: $7.4 billion in January 2006
  • Marvel: $4.24 billion in August 2009
  • Lucasfilm: $4 billion in October 2012
  • Fox entertainment assets: $71.3 billion in March 2019
  • Hulu: $27.5 billion in May 2019

During Iger's tenure as CEO, which started in March 2005, Disney shares surged by 371 percent, more than double the S&P 500’s 161 percent gain in the same period. Over that time, Disney’s market capitalization climbed by $174.95 billion to $231.44 billion.

Iger’s departure comes at a critical time for Disney, which is heading into a new frontier with the recent launch of its Disney+ streaming service and the closing of its Fox acquisition. As the company shapes its roadmap for the future, Chapek will have to make some tough decisions on whether to sell assets, including ABC and ESPN, according to Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall.

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“It’s not unrealistic to posit that this long-debated split could be the next legacy a bit down the road, and a logical reason to pass the torch now,” Cahall said. “At the very least, we think the new CEO has plenty of options and will benefit from the luxury of having a top-notch predecessor to build things for success."