Investors already know each company’s particular problems — and they’re more interested in what CEOs will forecast for 2013 — Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker says this morning as she lowered her Q4 earnings estimates for CBS, News Corp, and Viacom. “Our gut tells us that investors are already looking past the quarter, and hoping to invest in those companies most likely to show sequential improvement throughout” the year, she says. She identifies two subjects that are foremost on buyers’ minds ahead of the rash of reports due in early February: First, people will be listening for ad pacing data from Time Warner and CBS. The broadcaster’s super salesman CEO Les Moonves “will have the most positive commentary here given [its plans to air] The Grammys, AFC Championship, Super Bowl, and NCAA — but this seems to be expected,” she says. In addition, investors want to hear execs talk about how rising programming costs for sports and original programming will affect profits. They’ll be especially attentive to Disney “given the bump in costs from the NFL, college football, and the NBA” at ESPN, and News Corp in light of its “potential national sports network and other networks that we have read about in the trades.”
Ryvicker lowered her Q4 earnings forecast for CBS by two cents to 70 cents a share saying that revenues from streaming services such as Netflix and political ads probably fell short of her earlier prediction. She took News Corp down a penny to 42 cents a share, due to “continued pressure on the TV, Satellite and Publishing businesses.” And she shaved seven cents from Viacom, which she now projects to report 88 cents a share, largely due to the disappointing performance of DreamWorks Animation’s Rise Of The Guardians, which Paramount distributed.