Wall Street delivered its response to Viacom’s recent performance, and CEO Philippe Dauman’s latest forecasts for the company, and it’s ugly: Traders drove Viacom’s share price down 21.5% today to $32.86, the lowest it’s closed since mid-2010.
The pummeling slashed $3.5 billion from Viacom’s market value. At $12.7 billion, the entertainment company that owns MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and Paramount Pictures is worth less than Nielsen and Liberty Interactive Group and is valued at about two-thirds the amount of its corporate cousin CBS.
Investors weren’t just concerned about the weaker-than-expected numbers for the last three months of 2015, and warnings of possible battles with Comcast and Dish Network.
“Let’s be clear: all of our hoped-for catalysts appear to be gone,” MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says. “We have clearly put too much trust in the old playbook; the game has changed.”
Instead, insight into his turnaround plan “remains limited,” Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar says. Despite “overall anemic trend lines, [Viacom] seems to be relying on growing out of its problems organically and maintaining its strategic status quo.”
Many are concerned after hearing Viacom scale back its forecast for payments from cable, satellite and streaming companies — until recently a major driver for the company’s bull case.
The payments will grow in the “low mid-single-digit range” in the fiscal year that ends in September, Viacom says today, down from the forecast that execs made in November for “high single-digit growth.”
Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser said in his report about the company today that “confidence goes from bad to worse.”
He was especially struck by the way Dauman sought to recalibrate Wall Street’s expectations, including the possibility of “hiccups along the way” in Viacom’s widely watched negotiation to renew a carriage deal with Dish Network.
“The absence of an explanation until pressed was unsettling, and management assumptions around Dish were ambiguous,” Wieser says.
Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker also says she has “no idea what that means and [Dauman] did not clarify when asked.”