News Corporation (NWS) has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. People and investors alike may have missed the fact that the company had positive news to report before the weekend.
The company’s FOX brand announced that it has entered into an agreement with the Ultimate Fighting Company. The UFC is the leader in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts around the World. The deal is for seven years and will bring the UFC to the company’s FOX broadcast television channel as well as cable channels FX and Fuel. The deal takes UFC away from current provider of select fights Spike, which is owned by Viacom (VIA).
The FX channel will now have the rights to The Ultimate Fighter reality show. This show pits fighters of the same weight class in a house divided in two camps coached by current UFC fighters against each other for the prize of a UFC contract. Many of the winners of this show have gone on to have successful careers in the UFC. The move to FX is not that big of a deal from current SPIKE. Both are available on cable channels which are offered with most basic packages. The show will likely see more cross promotional efforts as FOX Sports airs major NFL games and other sporting events that could increase The Ultimate Fighter's target audience.
November 12, will mark the debut of UFC on broadcast television as FOX airs its first live event as part of this new contract. This fight lineup will be showcased to a whole new audience of people unwilling to pay for the current pay per view subscription model and will benefit the sport and News Corp.
UFC is not publicly traded and likely will never be, unlike World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The deal will mainly benefit the fighters and the UFC league. Here are some ideas of sponsors and endorsement companies who may see a benefit from this announcement.
Companies that could benefit from the Deal:
News Corporation (NWS) $15.80
News Corporation will be the biggest winner from this announcement. Fox will be able to charge a nice premium for advertising space during the fights that air on broadcast television. The company will be able to market and capitalize on a growing worldwide sport. This is a beneficial deal for the company and could send shares back to the $20 level that it was at before the recent scandals.
Target Price: $20.00
Energizer Holdings (ENR) $69.86
Energizer Holdings fall into this category due to its ownership of the Edge Shave Gel brand. The company recently announced an endorsement deal competition with fighters Phil Davis, Chad Mendes, Michael McDonald, and Brian Stann competing for votes to obtain a one-year deal with Edge. The fighters will be mentored by UFC legend BJ Penn during the competition. The deal is a good move for Energizer as it continues to move away from its battery business into the personal care sector. The company owns personal care brands Edge, Schick, Playtex, Hawaiian Tropic, and Banana Boat. The fighter who ends up winning the endorsement deal could soon be promoting Edge on broadcast television.
Target Price: $75.00
Nike (NKE) $78.58
The large clothing company recently signed UFC champion Anderson Silva to an endorsement deal with its Brazilian subsidiary company. The deal is not likely to play a huge role in Nike’s revenue or popularity. The deal was made after Under Armour signed Georges St. Pierre to a deal to show that the company is serious enough with MMA fighters. Look for Nike to sign more fighters to endorsement deals with premium placement on television much like Nike’s other endorsement stars. In the meantime pick up shares of this retail giant on the cheap. Shares are trading at a low valuation and should trade closer to the century mark by next year. The 52-week high is over $90.
Target Price: $90.50
Under Armour (UA) $52.78
Under Armour has Georges St. Pierre under contract as part of an endorsement deal. Similar to Nike, look for Under Armour to aggressively enter the sport of Mixed Martial Arts by signing endorsement deals with UFC fighters. Under Armour, with a small market cap, has the opportunity to greatly grow its brand by sponsoring UFC fighters, or events.
Target Price: $75.00
K-Swiss Inc (KSWS) $5.12
K-Swiss shares have been hurt recently due to lower than expected earnings. The company is a small-time ($180 million market capitalization) shoe and clothing company. K Swiss has UFC champion Jon Jones signed for an exclusive deal that will create a shoe with Jones' name and approval on it. The company also has a lifestyle line that will have Jon Jones merchandise as well as Urijah Faber clothing as well. The company could see a great impact with its size due to increased popularity of UFC and two of its most popular stars. Look for the company to push marketing on these two fighters as they are featured on television in and out of the ring.
Target Price: $6.50
Anheuser Busch Inbev (BUD) $53.87
As if the world’s largest beer company needs any more help with its dominance, this deal gives the company a great hold on the sports market. The company is one of the largest sponsors of the UFC. Bud Light is the official drink and is seen on the mat in the octagon and it has premium product placement throughout fights.
Target Price: $65.00
Harley Davidson (HOG) $32.11
Harley Davidson, the leader in motorcycles worldwide, is a premium sponsor for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It’s hard to believe that shares of this worldwide brand traded for less than $10 in 2009. The shares have rebounded nicely and the company is gaining ground in licensing and motorcycle sales. This FOX deal will not heavily impact Harley Davidson but remains a nice positive for a rebounding company.
Target Price: $35.00
THQ Inc. (THQI) $1.76
THQ is a small-time video game maker. The company has released UFC video games under the UFC Unleashed name brand over the past few years. This company represents a great opportunity to play the increased fan base to the sport. Kids and adults alike will want to play as the stars in video games. The company remains a buyout target and has been for some time. Look for the company or an acquirer to explore social gaming with the UFC brand.
Target Price: $3.00
Pepsi (PEP) $62.07
Pepsi owns the AMP energy drink brand, which has a major endorsement deal with Urijah Faber. This new FOX contract will have no impact on Pepsi but is nice for a company that sponsors one of the sport’s stars.
Target Price: $65.50
Others Benefiting Include:
The Fighters - UFC fighters will see increased endorsement deals. The list above will grow over time as major companies see the sport as a way to get television time and grow with the sport.
XYIENCE - The company markets and sells the official energy drink of the UFC. Look for Coca Cola (KO) and Pepsi to start to take nibbles at this small company. One of the larger corporations will likely try to get distribution rights or buy the company outright.
Authentic Brands Group-The company bought the Tapout and Silver Star brands a couple of years ago and will be rewarded nicely. This private company now owns the two largest apparel brands of the UFC and will see increased sales from this new deal. The company could sell the two brands and make a nice short-term return on their purchase.
Companies that won't benefit from the Deal:
Viacom (VIA) $49.89
Viacom’s Spike channel is losing the UFC. The channel currently airs The Ultimate Fighter and several live UFC events throughout the year. Spike advertises itself as a channel for men but will now be missing one of the pieces that helped make it fit its target audience of males 18-40. The company however is a large media giant that can weather such a move.
Target Price: $50.00
Disney (DIS) $31.85
The move doesn’t really hurt Disney but I can not believe that ESPN, owned by Disney, did not come out swinging to gain the rights to UFC. Although the UFC was looking for broadcast television, ESPN is the number one sports network and website and could have been a great landing place for the company. ESPN has great coverage of all the major sports but will fall behind in its coverage of this growing World sport.
Prices are as of close Friday August 19th.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.