Lionsgate could use some help telling its story to Wall Street after a year that saw its shares lose more than 30% of their value. And it just found the person to do it: The studio says this morning that it has hired former Piper Jaffray analyst James Marsh to be SVP of Investor Relations.
Marsh will “craft the Company’s investor relations strategies, manage its profile at investor conferences, spearhead its investor marketing initiatives and direct its daily communications with shareholders and analysts,” the studio says.
He’ll report to CFO Jimmy Barge and work with Peter Wilkes who’s SVP of Executive Communications and Investor Relations.
After 25 years as an analyst at firms including SG Cowen, Prudential Securities, Robertson Stephens, UBS Investment Bank and Kidder Peabody — and as a co-portfolio manager with Hanover Square Capital Management — Marsh is “a superstar addition to our team” who’s “highly respected by shareholders and analysts alike,” Barge says.
Marsh has been a Lionsgate fan: In February he told investors that he expects its stock price, which closed yesterday at $22.99, to hit $40.
Even though the company fell short of the Street’s expectations for the last three months of 2015, Marsh wrote that he was still “bullish on [Lionsgate] shares as the company continues to monetize its current film franchises while systematically assembling a solid portfolio of new franchises that can help grow the film segment in 2017 and beyond. Additionally, we think the company has created a substantial Television business that will also help to create a very stable income driver.”
The New York University MBA today praised Lionsgate for its “superb management, an entrepreneurial culture and a track record of innovation” as well as its “great history of disrupting the industry on many fronts.”
Marsh takes the job at a time when investors have a lot of questions about Lionsgate’s prospects. Some wonder whether it can establish a film franchise to replace The Hunger Games. Meanwhile, the studio’s name almost always comes up in speculation about a potential consolidation of content companies.
The intrigue surrounding the studio grew last year after Liberty Media’s John Malone, a fan of consolidation. engineered a stock swap that gave him about 3% of Lionsgate and a seat on its board. Later, two companies that he substantially controls — Discovery and Liberty Global — each bought 3.4% and picked up board seats.
Last month Lionsgate said that it was in deal talks with Starz, which Malone controls.