Today - Friday, March 27, 2015
- These mega-franchise "cinematic universes" are really catching on: Paramount Pictures (VIA, VIAB) plans to expand its Transformers films with more sequels and even spinoffs, an ambitious plan that mirrors Disney's efforts with its Marvel and Star Wars brands.
- Writer Akiva Goldsman is being brought in to join Michael Bay, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Steven Spielberg as producers, and Goldsman will head a "writers room" to create a two-part sequel as well as possible spinoff films.
- Transformers is no cheap toy for Paramount or Viacom; Four films in the series since 2007 have made billions, with last year's Transformers: Age of Extinction making $1.1B globally.
- Earlier than expected, Sony (NYSE:SNE) has added content from AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) to its PlayStation Vue streaming TV offering -- so the service's zombie fans (or fans of zombies) can get The Walking Dead's season five finale this coming Sunday.
- Vue (which is currently only available in NYC, Chicago and Philadelphia) now has AMC and WEtv in all packages, and IFC and Sundance in its mid- and high-priced Core and Elite tiers.
- Still absent (and still a dealbreaker for many): Disney's channels, including ABC TV and ESPN. Sony says it's in talks to make those happen.
- Three months after stating it's exploring such a move, Madison Square Garden (NASDAQ:MSG) has announced it's spinning off its sports and entertainment businesses into a separate, publicly-traded, company.
- The spinoff will include the Knicks, the Rangers, Madison Square Garden itself, Radio City Music hall, several other theaters, live productions such as Radio City Christmas Spectacular, entertainment JVs, and MSG's interest in Fuse Media. It's expected to be completed in 2015.
- MSG +2.8% AH to $83.00, making new 52-week highs in the process.
- Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ:SBGI) is up 1.6% as it launches a unit focused on investment in emerging technologies.
- Sinclair Digital Ventures will put funds into partner companies who can engage Sinclair viewers with advertisers on a series of smaller screens (Web, social media, mobile).
- The unit will be overseen by COO David Amy, CFO Chris Ripley and the COO of Sinclair's Digital Group, Rob Weisbord.
- In its Q4 report last month, Sinclair noted that digital offering revenues were up 70.7%, and Web and mobile platforms had more than 35M unique visitors in December.
- Previously: Sinclair Broadcast Group higher on record results (Feb. 18 2015)
- BNP Paribas has downgraded Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY) two full notches, to Underperform from Outperform.
- Facing an activist challenge, Vivendi Chairman Vincent Bolloré has increased his stake in the conglomerate to 10.2%, via a purchase of an extra 27.7M shares for €632M. His stake has now doubled over the past month.
- Hedge fund P Schoenfeld Asset Management has pressed Vivendi to sell Universal Music Group and this week called for €9B in special dividends from the cash-rich firm.
- While activists want the firm to get slimmer, Bolloré wants to use the cash hoard to expand Universal Music Group as well as Canal Plus, along with more acquisitions.
- ADRs are down 0.3%.
- Pandora Media (NYSE:P) -- down 1.5% during lunch hour -- jumped back into positive ground, now up 3.4%, as LMM's bullish Bill Miller tells CNBC the stock trades at a "monstrous discount to what it would be valued at if it were privately held."
- While Spotify is recently valued around $10B, he points to Pandora as a profitable company with a $3.3B market cap and expects the company to grow earnings at 100% annually over the next three years.
- "It has 88M listeners, and it streams more music than YouTube does video," Miller says.
- He notes Pandora sold down as user growth slowed but "that picked up again in the quarter." They're probably going to lose some market share to possible competition from Spotify and Apple, but he believes Pandora's lead is sustainable.
- TV Everywhere -- the business model providing authenticated premium TV streaming to multiple connected devices -- is now six years old, but after some strong 2014 growth may be poised to go mainstream, Adobe's 2014 digital-video study concludes.
- Usage per quarter last year of authenticated streams averaged 13% of pay-TV subscribers, double the same figure from 2013 and more than triple the 4% in Q1 of 2013.
- While HBO Go (NYSE:TWX) has proved popular, gains were helped by NBC's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) strong promotion of TV Everywhere for the Sochi Winter Olympics, among other big sporting events.
- The report looked at 2.1B authenticated video views for 2014 vs. 574M in 2013. It predicts that overall active viewership will reach 18% by year-end, even without major sports events this year, and that online viewing on mobile devices will pass desktop viewing by Q4 2016.
- Among Adobe's other predictions: The combined AT&T/DirecTV will offer a "skinny" OTT service to compete with Sling TV (NASDAQ:DISH) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX); big MVPDs will follow Comcast in making the experience better; and cable companies will follow NBC in making more back catalog content available on demand.
- Ford (F +0.1%) CEO Mark Fields earned $18.6M in total compensation during 2014 after heading the company for the second half of the year.
- Previous CEO Alan Mulally took home $22M in total comp last year after incentive bonuses are factored in.
- Breaking even in Europe and breaking through with the F-150 aluminum model are two of Fields' biggest initiatives to watch.
- SEC Form 14A
11:46 AM| Comment!
- Wind Telecomunicazioni, the Italian unit of VimpelCom (NASDAQ:VIP), has closed on selling 90% of its towers business to Spanish firm Abertis (OTCPK:ABRTY), for €693M (about $753M).
- Abertis will name its terrestrial telecoms unit Cellnex Telecom, which will officially exist April 1 with more than 15,000 towers, including the 7,377 towers it's attaining via a 90% stake in Wind's Galata Co.
- The Wind tower business will generate about €200M in revenues in its first year, Cellnex says.
- Wind will provide services on the sites for 15 years, with an option for another 15-year extension.
- Previously: VimpelCom unit sells most of towers business to Abertis (Mar. 02 2015)
- Previously: VimpelCom may draw $1B from impending sale of Italy towers (Feb. 27 2015)
- Telus (TU -0.9%) says it's closed on $1.75B offered in three series of senior unsecured notes, a move following its bid for wireless spectrum licenses in early March.
- The company offered three-year, seven-year and 30-year notes and the deals were oversubscribed.
- Average term to maturity of the company's long-term debt will increase to 11.1 years, and weighted-average cost of LT debt drops 30 basis points to 4.42%, says the company's Executive Chair Darren Entwistle.
- Telus bid $1.5B earlier this month to get 15 MHz of wireless spectrum in Canada's AWS-3 auction.
- Previously: Rogers skips Canada's spectrum auction; new players buy in (Mar. 06 2015)
- Model S registrations fell 45% M/M in February to 260, according to data from JL Warren.
- The research firm notes the number of cars imported by Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) to China is also lower than the level of a few months ago in what could be an indication of weak demand.
- CEO Elon Musk is in China at the moment and is scheduled to speak publicly in Hainan on Sunday.
- Tesla is down 2.24% to $186.13 vs. the 52-week trading range of $177.22 to $291.42.
- Shares of Manchester United (MANU +2.9%) trade higher as the soccer club puts itself in a strong position to be playing in European competition next year.
- The Red Devils are in 4th place in the English Premier League which would qualify it for the Champions League, and even a 5th place finish puts into the Europa League.
- Broadcast revenue and matchday revenue have been off this year at the parent company due to the club's Europe league exclusion.
- It's time for Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores (SHOS -0.3%) to evolve its retail strategy, according to execs.
- 51 stores will be revamped to change their layouts and include more appliances.
- The changes should be completed in April.
- The battle for appliance sales in the U.S. has stepped up over the last year with Conn's, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Best Buy all refining strategy.
- Shares of SHOS are down 72% since the business was set loose from Sears Holdings in 2013.
- Shares of Kirkland's (KIRK +5.3%) are higher after Piper Jaffray comes in with an upgrade on the retailer to Overweight from Neutral.
- The upgrade follows a similar action from the investment firm on Conn's.
- Retail analysts have noted the out-performance of the S&P Retail ETF (NYSEARCA:XRT) vs. broad market averages over the last month has been aided by some beat-up or lesser-known specialty names gaining favor.
- ETFs: XLY, VCR, RTH, RETL, FXD, IYC, FDIS, SCC, UCC, PMR, RCD
- Oxford Industries (OXM +20.9%) skyrockets after announcing it will sell its Ben Sherman men's brand.
- A Q4 profit beat and pleasing guidance from the company is also in the background.
- Previously: Oxford Industries beats by $0.05, misses on revenue (Mar. 26 2015)
- Sony Pictures Television (NYSE:SNE) has agreed to acquire Dutch premium TV group Film1 from Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA), John Malone's European cable operator.
- The deal means Sony will own and operate five premium movie channels as well as its over-the-top "Film1 Go" digital distribution service.
- Liberty had acquired Film1 in buying Dutch cable operator Ziggo, and Ziggo will continue to carry the five Film1 channels, which feature films from Hollywood studios as well as independent productions.
- The move is another in a series of recent Sony transactions to acquire European channels, including deals in the UK and Hungary.
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