Controversial media analyst Rich Greenfield has fired off a complaint letter to The Walt Disney Co., board of directors, saying the company has denied him the same access to management other media pundits enjoy, particularly after he downgraded the stock to "sell" on Dec. 18.
Prior to that action – which also was the same day Disney opened what later became the biggest box office film in history, Star Wars: The Force Awakens—Greenfield said Disney regularly invited BTIG to corporate events, responded to emails in a timely fashion and occasionally let them ask questions on earnings conference calls (every few years, according to the analyst).
According to Greenfield's blog, on the evening of the downgrade, he received a call from Disney’s Investor Relations chief Lowell Singer complaining not of the downgrade, but that the analyst called out “the top media CEO in the world,” referring to Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger, in public appearances as being untruthful concerning ESPN’s ability to launch a standalone over-the-top service. Singer also claimed, according to Greenfield, that the BTIG analyst purposefully selected Dec. 18 for the downgrade “to inflict maximum damage on Disney shares by taking advantage of The Star Wars news cycle.”
Since that conversation with Singer, Disney has snubbed the analyst, refusing to respond to his phone call requests, stopped answering emails, and refused to invite him to management sponsored events like the ABC Upfront and this weekend’s opening of Shanghai Disneyland.
“We have asked repeatedly to attend the aforementioned events as they offer analysts unique access to Disney senior management,” Greenfield wrote in his blog. “Disney management has not responded to any of our requests to attend sponsored events since the December 18, 2015 phone conversation with Singer.”
Greenfield added that management’ behavior toward one of only two analysts with a “sell” rating on the stock “represents poor corporate behavior that should not be tolerated by The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors and their investors.”