Walt Disney shares dropped 2.4% after CFO Jay Rasulo attempted to tame investor expectations this past week. Rasulo suggested that expectations were too high and that the company doesn’t expect Q3 results to be as strong as they were last year – but this doesn’t mean that they’ll be weak either. Instead, Rasulo insists that the two years are incomparable.
While Iron Man 3 grossed a whopping $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office, it’s $300 million short of the historic results from The Avengers. Furthermore, an expensive marketing campaign for Disney’s upcoming The Lone Ranger will also damper Q3 results, says CFO Jay Rasulo. Marketing for The Loan Ranger will be most prevalent during Q3, but the release date for the film means that revenue will be counted for Q4. The box office discrepancy between The Avengers and Iron Man 3 coupled with marketing expenses for The Loan Ranger will leave Disney $150 million less compared to the same time last year.
However, all of these issues are simply timing issues, assured CFO Jay Rasulo, and do not reflect any larger concerns or trends within Walt Disney.
Communication Tops Skill Set for Today’s CFO
Rasulo’s proactive effort to reassure investors and Wall Street of Disney’s performance is a reminder of the increased importance CFOs are playing in their companies. From journalists to internal teams to investors, CFOs have many constituencies to serve. A good CFO like Jay Rasulo doesn’t just understand how much the company makes, but also how the money is made – and is able to communicate that effectively to investors and a larger audience.
CFOs should seek to embrace soft skills such as becoming a world-class communicator both for the good of not only their careers, but for their company as well. CFO Jay Rasulo is a reminder of the need to communicate complex ideas in an understandable manner to various audience types ranging from partners to investors to consumers. In other words, CFOs are playing a more prominent role in the commercial side of the business. Just as Rasulo explained the likely Q3 outcome, CFOs must confidently explain the situation, what the numbers are, what they’re going to be, and why.