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Fri, Feb. 5, 11:39 AM
- Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) has hit a three-year low, tumbling 30.6% in its worst decline since going public, after a dim Q3 earnings report that showed weakness in its film results. The move is knocking half a billion dollars off the studio's market cap.
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) -- now back in merger talks with Lions Gate -- has tanked 15.7% as well so far today.
- FBR & Co. has cut its price target on Lions Gate twice since Thanksgiving -- first from $43 to $38 at the end of November, and then from $38 to $31 on Monday. Shares closed at $25.45 yesterday and are trading at $17.72 today.
- Stifel Nicolaus this morning cut its price target to $35, from $42. It holds a Buy rating on the stock, as does FBR. B. Riley on Wednesday reiterated its Buy rating and $50 price target.
- Previously: Lions Gate down 5.3% as movie weakness spurs Q3 misses (Feb. 04 2016)
- Previously: Lions Gate Entertainment misses by $0.07, misses on revenue (Feb. 04 2016)
Wed, Feb. 3, 4:27 PM
- Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) is back a the negotiating table with Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) over an acquisition, reports Bloomberg.
- The company made a serious effort late in 2014 to buy Starz only to be scared off by the deal price.
- LGF spiked late to finish with a 1.4% gain, while Starz also jetted up in the last hour of trading to end +1.8%.
Tue, Jan. 5, 8:18 PM
- Starz (STRZA -1.4%) is the channel with the pay-TV rights to galaxy-buster Star Wars: The Force Awakens -- and on the cheap, according to The New York Post.
- The channel is paying a bargain $17.5M for the rights, The Post reports, based on an expiring deal with Walt Disney (DIS -2%) that covered movies in theaters through 2015's end.
- Disney has a new distribution deal with Netflix, who likely would have had to pay $40M for the rights, a source says. Starz, meanwhile, usually has to pay about $4M per hour of original programming.
- Netflix does get to stream The Force Awakens -- in Canada, and will pick up later Star Wars films in America.
- “The benefit to Starz is it’s a sleepy brand and it will stir some excitement," says Albert Fried's Rich Tullo. "It’s like having a Super Bowl to launch other programming.”
- Previously: Disney -2.2% as Macquarie downgrades, Cowen sees tougher 2016 (Jan. 05 2016)
Nov. 30, 2015, 5:16 PM
- With its final Hunger Games sequel putting up a "disappointing" run at the box office (lower than last fall's film, but still stellar numbers) and with FBR cutting its price target, Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) finished down 2.5% today.
- FBR reiterated an overall bullish take, but reduced its earnings estimates, and cut its price target to $38 on sum-of-the-parts valuation. Shares closed at $33.94, implying 12% upside.
- FBR now forecasts that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 will top out at $300M in total domestic box office, and earn $240M in profits, down from previous estimates of $380M box office and $315M in profits.
- Together, the final two films in the series should generate $200M in 2016 profits and $100M in 2017, FBR says.
- M&A is still on the table, and FBR's Barton Crockett says tax constraints could delay merger news with oft-cited partner Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) until early 2016.
Nov. 4, 2015, 11:16 AM
- Cable TV networks are sinking in reaction to sharply lowered guidance from Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), which is using its conference call to lower expectations for ratings and subscribers in 2016.
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) was positive earlier but has tumbled 2.6%; Twenty-First Century Fox is off (FOX -4.6%, FOXA -4.9%); Viacom has sunk (VIA -5.2%, VIAB -6.2%); Discovery Communications as well (DISCA -4.3%).
- AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) is off 3.5% and Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) down 2.1%.
- Time Warner is now -10% in reaction to its conference call, still ongoing.
- Previously: Time Warner dives 7.9%, cutting 2016 outlook on call (Nov. 04 2015)
- Previously: Time Warner -0.7% early after Q3 beats on strength at HBO, Warner Bros. (Nov. 04 2015)
Oct. 30, 2015, 12:27 PM
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) is off 10% following its Q3 earnings miss yesterday as analysts come in with downgrades and price target cuts.
- Credit Agricole and CLSA lowered ratings by a few notches, setting shares to Underperform from a previous Buy rating.
- Meanwhile, FBR lowered its price target to $40, from $44, and Pivotal reduced its target to $35, from $37. Shares are currently trading at $33.50.
- FBR holds an Outperform rating while Pivotal rates the stock a Hold.
- In an unusual step, Starz commented on the suit filed by former senior VP Keno Thomas (against the company, along with CEO Chris Albrecht, CRO Michael Thornton and Liberty Media) over discrimination claims tied to his firing that also includes allegations that the network wanted him to falsify revenue and subscriber numbers for the company's board.
- “Normally, we would not comment on pending litigation, and, in this instance the company has not even been served,” says a spokesperson. “However, based on reading the complaint in the press, rest assured that Starz, as well as the other defendants cited, will defend themselves vigorously against these scurrilous, unsubstantiated and offensive attacks by a disgruntled former employee.”
- Previously: Starz misses as distribution declines offset network gains (Oct. 29 2015)
Oct. 28, 2015, 2:33 PM
- It's not even Halloween yet, but Starz (STRZA +2.3%) has given an early renewal to its original series Ash vs. Evil Dead.
- The show, set to premiere on Saturday, is a follow-up to the Sam Raimi Evil Dead film series (1981-1992).
- Starz has ordered a second season of 10 episodes that will return principals, including Bruce Campbell as chainsaw-handed Ash and Lucy Lawless.
- Licensing deals are bringing Ash vs. Evil Dead to more than 100 countries/territories for a simultaneous premiere Halloween night.
Oct. 5, 2015, 5:31 PM
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) and Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF) are in advanced talks about a merger, the Los Angeles Times is reporting -- a move that's been much discussed as investors divined John Malone's intentions.
- Starz is up 1.6% after hours; LGF is up 7.5% in late trading.
- According to the sources, Lions Gate management would run a combined company but find a key role for Starz CEO Chris Albrecht.
- Earlier this year, Malone hinted at a bigger tie-up after taking a minority stake in Lions Gate via a stock swap
- An outright deal isn't the only possible outcome, the Times said; a variety of closer partnerships are part of the discussions as well.
- Previously: Report: Lions Gate was close to Starz buyout (Apr. 29 2015)
- Previously: Maffei: More might come from Malone-Lions Gate relationship (Mar. 09 2015)
- Previously: Starz, Lions Gate deal may presage closer relationship (Feb. 11 2015)
Sep. 29, 2015, 5:28 PM
- In musical TV news, Starz (STRZA -1.9%) has expanded its partnership with rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, executive producer of its biggest original hit, Power.
- A new two-year exclusive deal means that Jackson's G Unit Film & Television will produce new projects for the network along with keeping Jackson on to star in and produce Power.
- In other rap collaborations, ABC Family (DIS +1%) gives the go-ahead to a new series from Nicki Minaj, who like Jackson will executive produce and star in her show. It'll be based on immigration with her family from Trinidad.
Sep. 16, 2015, 10:20 AM
- With traditional pay TV subscribers on the wane, a potential purchase of Starz (STRZA +5.6%) is not the best way to spend AMC Networks' (AMCX -1.1%) "M&A powder," says Stifel Nicolaus' Benjamin Mogil.
- Adding Starz won't change AMC's affiliate positioning, he writes, though for Starz (up solidly today), the combination makes more sense as a way to accelerate a possible discussion with Lions Gate (LGF +0.9%).
- He rates AMC Networks as a Buy and Starz at Hold.
- A deal here could speed up additional consolidation in the space, writes Macquarie's Amy Yong, who holds a Neutral rating on AMCX and Outperform on STRZA.
Sep. 15, 2015, 5:42 PM
Sep. 15, 2015, 5:39 PM
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) is up 7% in after-hours trading on news that it's in talks to be acquired by AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX), itself up 2.5% after hours.
- Bloomberg reported the preliminary talks, which come after a few abortive attempts by suitors to acquire Starz in the past year. “They probably ultimately need to combine with others at least from a bundler point of view, if not from an ownership point of view,” John Malone -- Starz's top individual investor -- said last week.
- An AMC deal would require the sign-off of the Dolan family, who control voting power after AMC was spun off from Cablevision four years ago.
- Starz has a market cap of $3.9B and an enterprise value that's grown to more than $5B from $4B last year, during a period when it was often linked to Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF). Shares in Starz are up 26.1% over the past 12 months.
Sep. 1, 2015, 5:41 PM
- Starz (STRZA -1.8%) has added its Starz Play service to Roku's streaming platform.
- The service is Starz's TV Everywhere offering for authenticated subscribers. It's offering Roku owners a growing slate of original programming, along with early-window films from Disney, Sony, and others.
- The move adds to Starz Play's reach; it's also available on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Xbox One/Xbox 360, and Chromecast, as well as iOS/Android devices.
Aug. 6, 2015, 1:01 PM
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) is down another 5.2% today (down 13.7% in two days) amid a deepening media stock sell-off that it seems to have spurred with its Tuesday earnings report, where it took a fair chunk of time on an analyst call acknowledging subscriber losses at ESPN.
- Also off broadly at midday: CBS -3.1%; CMCSA -4%; FOXA -9.8%; VIAB -15.6%; TWX -5%; AMCX -9.6%; LGF -6.7%.
- The sell-off is affecting several companies with a cable or pay-TV component, as sub losses at ESPN -- the most valuable part of any cable bundle -- point to the effect of cord-cutting.
- Analysts are agreeing that the trend of unbundling (or skinny bundling) might threaten the long-term health of the pay TV ecosystem, which has profited from the promise of rising subscription fees from providers. That's dependent on subscriber counts that don't significantly drop off.
- A growing pile of reports this week is indicating warning signs for subscriber counts. Dish Network (DISH -2.2%) had "almost certainly the worst quarter" for satellite subscriber losses, analyst Craig Moffett noted, as it merged Sling TV subscriber growth into its overall count, masking the core number. Moffett estimates Dish lost 151K satellite TV customers in Q2.
- Subscriber losses mean lower affiliate fees. Disney said in its call "we now expect domestic cable affiliate revenue [growth] to fall short of previous expectation, but still in high single digits."
- Other industry decliners: CRWN -8.9%; QVCA -5.4%; STRZA -6.1%
- Previously: Disney tumbles 8.9% after revenue miss; Iger talks ESPN again (Aug. 05 2015)
- Previously: Disney's Iger bullish on ESPN despite consumer changes, unbundling (Aug. 04 2015)
Jul. 29, 2015, 11:33 AM
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) has tanked in early trading, -10.7%, after a Q2 miss on top and bottom lines mitigated by subscriber figures that grew from last year.
- Earnings of $63M were down 9% Y/Y despite operating profit that rose to $110.5M. Adjusted OIBDA was $123.4M -- like operating profit, up 5%. For Starz Networks, revenue of $333.3M was up 2%.
- Revenue breakout: Programming networks and other services, $380.3M (up 2.2%); Home video net sales, $37.4M (down 1.8%).
- The company's on track toward a goal of 75-80 episodes of original series, says CEO Chris Albrecht, bolstered by its key hit Power.
- Subscriber count of 23.5M was down slightly from Q1's 23.7M, but up from a year-ago 22M.
- Conference call to come at 1 p.m. ET.
Jul. 16, 2015, 2:36 PM
- Starz (STRZA +2%) is hiring Jeffrey Hirsch to head up a new area of Global Marketing and Product Planning, and he'll join the company on Monday.
- Hirsch -- formerly an executive VP and CMO of residential services at Time Warner Cable -- will oversee development of products and services for worldwide distribution, with particular focus on brand awareness as Starz develops more original programming.
- Starz will hold a conference call to discuss Q2 results on July 29 at 1 p.m. ET.
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