Discovery Shares Rise After John Malone Boosts Stake Via $75M Stock Purchase

John Malone
Associated Press

Discovery shares rose nearly 4% to $30.77 in mid-day trading Monday on news that the company’s largest individual shareholder, billionaire John Malone, has increased his stake in the company.

An SEC filing revealed that Malone acquired more than 2.6 million in new shares, at $28.03 apiece. While that was enough to move the stock, given the strategic import of Malone’s investments in general, it is also a tiny fraction of the company, whose market capitalization is about $15.5 billion.

Discovery shares have been moving sideways over the past year or more as investors ponder its long-term strategy. While the company controls a powerhouse set of cable TV networks, some of which came aboard via the company’s acquisition of Food Network parent Scripps Networks Interactive in 2018, the pay-TV universe is shrinking. The number of pay-TV homes in the U.S. is declining by more than 3% a year.

Globally, Discovery operates direct-to-consumer streaming outlets, but has preferred to distribute through partners in the U.S. CEO David Zaslav has emphasized his belief that the company has a content offering too desirable to be overlooked. The company will prevail, he has asserted, by continuing to deliver compelling programming across categories such as lifestyle, nature and targeted sports verticals including golf and cycling.

Earlier this month, a better-than-expected third-quarter earnings report boosted Discovery shares by double digits. They have since been trading in the $30 range.

For Malone, the investment in Discovery follows his withdrawal from Lionsgate, whose board of directors he also exited last year. Later this week, Malone will take part in Liberty Media’s annual investor meeting, which usually yields some new insights into the Liberty chairman’s investment inclinations.

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