Cheap TVs: Last Week’s Plunge In Pay-TV Stocks Could Have Lasting Effect

This post originally appeared at Smart Content News.

Last week’s meltdown among media stocks left many Wall Street professionals scratching their heads.

Objectively speaking, the earnings news that triggered the sell-off, first from Disney and followed by Time Warner, Discovery and Viacom, was sobering but hardly catastrophic. Disney made a modest downward adjustment to its full-year forecast for its cable unit, led by ESPN, from “high single digits” to “mid-single digits” due stock-arrow-downto continued subscriber losses among pay-TV providers. Viacom reported a 9 percent year-on-year decline in advertising revenue, driven by falling ratings for its cable networks, but its net income for the quarter actually beat Wall Street estimates.

Yet it was enough to start a stampede that wiped out more than $45 billion in market value across seven pay-TV companies.

Some of those losses are likely to be recovered over the coming weeks and months as investors get a grip on themselves and the companies trim spending to boost EPS. But the massive selloff could still have a lasting effect on the sector.

The abrupt selloff, well beyond what the fundamentals of the stocks would justify, seemed to reflect a dramatic shift in market sentiment regarding valuation benchmarks and appropriate share-price multiples for media companies as investors focus on structural changes in the pay-TV business.  Resetting those assumptions to pre-meltdown levels might require some restructuring of the sector. Read More »