What Disney's executive exodus means for CEO Bob Iger

Disney shares up 2% in 2023 are underperforming S&P 500's 13% rise

Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger is focused on giving company shareholders confidence despite losing his chief financial officer and head of diversity in recent days, according to analysts interviewed by FOX Business.

The exodus comes just months after Iger returned to the media giant from retirement to calm the woke, political chaos that erupted under former CEO Bob Chapek, including the highly public battle with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
DIS THE WALT DISNEY CO. 88.47 -0.17 -0.19%
Bob Chapek of Disney speaking

Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Iger has since inherited the bad blood with DeSantis as the company continues to tussle with the state over tax preferences and expanding. Disney is also in the midst of cutting around 7,000 jobs, which has taken place over several months.

Iger and DeSantis

Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, left, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. (Getty / Getty Images)

Last week, the entertainment giant announced that Christine McCarthy, Disney's senior executive vice president and chief financial officer, was stepping down for a medical leave of absence; and on Wednesday, Disney’s senior vice president and chief diversity officer, Latondra Newton, announced she was leaving her position after years of progressive controversies.


"The former CFO was a brilliant money manager but never followed through on some of her dissenting ideas about how best to deploy Disney's considerable resources," said Porter Bibb, managing partner at Mediatech Capital Partners.

Christine McCarthy

Disney announced that Christine McCarthy, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer, was stepping down for a medical leave of absence. (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"She alienated a number of senior creative talents at Disney who will shed no tears at her departure," he continued. "Iger has a very clear, very creative and an imaginative, confident vision on how to put Disney back on track as a new-age media and entertainment company with more opportunities and more talent than any of its growing complement of competitors."

"Iger is completely focused on restructuring Disney for the 21st century, identifying and vetting his successor and giving shareholders the confidence that he remains one of the most capable, most competitive and most talented CEOs anywhere," Bibb added.


Meanwhile, outrage over Disney's increasingly progressive bend in its content production is picking up steam — a leaked video showed a Disney official explaining that the company is committed to pushing "queer stories" and putting in place procedures to ensure that the company is creating enough "gender-nonconforming characters."

Last year, Disney axed gendered language such as "boys and girls" in its park greetings to promote gender inclusivity.

Latondra Newton

Latondra Newton, Disney’s senior vice president and chief diversity officer, announced she was leaving her position after years of progressive controversies. (Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney / Getty Images)

In an interview with FOX Business, Jamie Lumley, a senior analyst at Third Bridge in New York, said bringing in new leadership comes with a risk of affecting Disney’s ability to execute on its key initiatives.

"The company is trying to improve the underlying fundamentals of its streaming business and manage headwinds in linear video distribution, all while keeping the parks running smoothly," he said. "Disney is in a period of transition, and the recent executive turnover could have a considerable impact on its direction."


Over the last week amid executive upheaval, Walt Disney shares have lost roughly 4.1% and have gained just 2% this year, trailing the S&P 500's 13% rise.

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Walt Disney


Bibb said Disney’s stock will likely fall somewhat in the near term but begin to recapture its momentum of the past 18 months as Iger's strategy becomes clearer and the short list of next CEOs becomes apparent.

FOX Business reporter Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report.