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- Universal’s ‘Blackhat’ was the odd man out at the box office this past weekend following strong showings from a number of competing films.
- The movie’s marketing campaign, paired with a crowded box office space, has largely been the top two reasons analysts believe the film flopped.
- Universal has a number of high-profile films on tap for 2015 and this one film will likely have little impact on the overall bottom line as a result.
Sony Looking To 'Wedding Ringer' To Disconnect Universal's 'Blackhat' At Weekend Box Office
- Four new films enter the box office race this weekend with three of them showing correlations to 2014.
- The three new releases in the group are expected to make money, but not as much as Warner Brothers’ ‘American Sniper,’ which is expanding to more theaters.
- Sony’s ‘The Wedding Ringer’ is the heavy favorite to come out on top with $25 to $30 million over the four-day period.
- Kevin Hart’s bankability continues to be on display as last year his ‘Ride Along’ was a boon for Universal and this year his ‘Wedding Ringer’ will score for Sony.
Net Neutrality Fight To End With A Whimper, And Cable Wins
- The FCC will upgrade its definition of broadband to include speeds needed for video services.
- Cable operators already deliver these speeds.
- Phone companies will take federal subsidies to do so.
- Expect your rural friends to get their video without wires.
Universal Uses Micro-Budget Approach Brilliantly In 2014 With Sequels Key To 2015 Success
- Universal saw a number of major hits in 2014 off movies with a micro-production budget of $40 million or less.
- The majority of the studio’s misses ended up recouping their production budgets because of how low they were to start.
- 2015 will see five major sequels unspool in theaters.
- While they may carry a higher price tag, they will likely see very high returns on investment.
- NBC's return to live event musical theater with 'Peter Pan Live!' didn't top the high bar set by last year's 'The Sound of Music Live!.'
- 'Peter Pan Live!' fell victim to less name recognition than 'Sound of Music' and a lesser known lead.
- Despite the lower ratings, NBC did see some of its best numbers for the night in years and continues to give viewers a reason not to tune out.
- NBC is also looking at other ratings-grabbing events including a live adaptation of a play while Fox is looking to enter the music space in 2015 with 'Grease.'
- Comcast is the best bet right now. It is what everyone else wants to be.
- The trick is to vertically integrate, combining infrastructure with programming assets.
- Merger approval will be the starting gun on another round of consolidation, focused on content.
Comcast Shares Undervalued Despite Time Warner Cable Transaction UncertaintyStock Market Sherpa • Nov. 29, 2014
- With the FCC continuing to review their proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable, this article investigates Comcast using a DRAG framework.
- Comcast generates strong free cash flow and has doubled its dividend over the last three years.
- The company's balance sheet contains a fair amount of leverage and this will continue to be the case whether or not its acquisition of Time Warner is completed.
- Based on its impressive growth potential and reasonable price to earnings valuation, Comcast appears like a compelling investment opportunity with 10-15% upside.
- Comcast stock lost 4% after the President said he supports strict net neutrality.
- Comcast has been acting as though net neutrality was in place and has been profiting handsomely.
- Never let politicians drive your investments. Comcast remains a buy.
Comcast Stock Has Become A Prisoner Of The Net Neutrality Debate
- Comcast has vertical integration other content and cable operators lack.
- Regulators have put the company in limbo, and as a result, it is underperforming.
- Any decisions from Washington should send the stock higher.
- The stock appears to be fairly valued on 2015 earnings estimates and earnings growth expectations.
- The dividend is pretty small despite a 31.9% 5-year dividend growth rate.
- I will be taking a pass on the name when my IRA is funded.
Universal Hoping To Give Horror Genre A Jolt With Micro-Budgeted 'Ouija'
- Universal banked big on the declining horror genre this October with two Halloween friendly releases.
- While 'Dracula Untold' didn’t scare up anything special its opening weekend, the odds are better for 'Ouija.'.
- This year only two horror films ('The Purge: Anarchy' and 'Annabelle') have grossed over $20 million during its opening weekend.
- Studio sibling NBC is also banking on a horror industry resurgence with Friday night’s debut of 'Constantine.'.
NBC Hoping Constantine Is Missing Piece In Friday Night Scheduling Puzzle
- NBC’s had great success with fantasy horror drama 'Grimm,' but has struck out in finding a companion show to air following it on Friday nights.
- 'Constantine,' based on the DC Comics series, will debut Friday night and because of its similar theme could help the network break its unlucky streak.
- NBC sister company Universal is also hoping the Halloween season rubs off on it as the studio is set to debut 'Ouija,' despite a declining horror genre.
Comcast: Universal Hoping 'Annabelle's' Success Boosts 'Dracula Untold' And Horror GenreThe Entertainment Oracle • Oct. 11, 2014
- Throughout 2014, Universal has been one of the most consistently successful studios in part due to hits like "Ride Along" and "Neighbors".
- Universal has two horror films slated for October in hopes of capitalizing on Halloween, but that could ultimately prove risky.
- The horror genre has come upon rough times as of late, but Warner Brothers’ success with "Annabelle" last week could help turn the tide.
Comcast: Liam Neeson Expected To Help Universal Stand Tall Heading Into Fall With 'A Walk Among The Tombstones'The Entertainment Oracle • Sep. 19, 2014
- Liam Neeson has become one of Hollywood’s hottest action stars at 62 years old and has helped multiple studios profit as a result.
- “A Walk Among The Tombstones” is expected to help Universal kick off its fall slate, but will probably see a lower total as unlike Neeson’s recent films it's rated “R”.
- Universal has three films lined up over September and October that take on a darker tone which haven’t been selling as well at the box office as of late.
Comcast: Universal Takes Micro-Budget Approach To Win Summer And Set Up Fall SlateThe Entertainment Oracle • Sep. 15, 2014
- Universal was one of the rare studios to exit the summer movie season as a winner.
- Micro-budgeted films are the latest big trend in Hollywood and Universal saw big success with three of its own.
- The studio’s fall slate includes a nice mix of potential blockbusters to-be and one of the season’s buzziest Oscar contenders.
- Comcast’s lead TV division, NBC, is coming off an amazing summer that was just as successful as its lead film division, Universal.
Comcast's Share Price Will Gain From Bright Future
- Comcast's merger with Time Warner could give it a stronghold on the media industry.
- Even if the merger falls apart, however, the company is set up for long term organic growth.
- The company's valuation multiples may be stretched, but there remains room for further share price gains ahead.
Comcast: Universal Looking To Get One Last Scare Out Of The Summer With 'As Above, So Below'The Entertainment Oracle • Aug. 29, 2014
- Universal Studios is set to unveil its final film of its 2014 summer slate this weekend with ‘As Above, So Below'.
- Horror films have been a mixed bag for the film industry this year with no film in that genre taking the top spot at the box office.
- Universal has had a solid summer overall thanks to successes with micro-budget films such as ‘Neighbors’ and ‘Lucy'.
- Shares of Comcast are currently trading at a 21% discount to fair value.
- Potential catalyst in the proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Deal would accelerate forward revenue and operating cash flow growth drivers, and be accretive to FCF within one year.
- Fair value indicated at $66/share, with an implied terminal EBITDA multiple of 8.64x.
Comcast: Universal Looks To 'Get On Up' To End 3-Week Release Spree On A High NoteThe Entertainment Oracle • Aug. 1, 2014
- "Get On Up" concludes a three-week period where Universal has released three movies in a row.
- Like the "The Purge: Anarchy" and "Lucy," "Get On Up" doesn't come with a high price tag and is expected to do well.
- Following a strong fall lineup of films, Universal looks to be on track for a stellar 2015 with a number of highly anticipated sequels.
- Universal along with sibling NBC have really helped make a lot of money for parent company Comcast.
Dec. 13, 2014, 8:45 AM
- American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL), Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), and Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) will be added to the Nasdaq 100 (NASDAQ:QQQ) ahead of the open on December 22.
- Removed will be Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV), and Maxim Integrated (NASDAQ:MXIM).
- A revision to the index methodology allows multiple share classes of index participants to be included, so Comcast Class A Special (NASDAQ:CMCSK), Twenty-First Century Fox Class B (NASDAQ:FOX), and Liberty Global Class C (NASDAQ:LBTYK) will also become part of the index.
- Source: Press Release
- ETFs: QQQ, PSQ, TQQQ, QID, SQQQ, QLD, QQEW, QQQE, QQXT
Nov. 26, 2014, 8:58 AM
- CBS and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) have extended a programming agreement for another week, keeping the network on the air for Dish’s 14M satellite TV subscribers while the parties negotiate.
- Dish is juggling more than just the CBS talks, after last week restoring channels from Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) Turner Broadcasting to its service while seeking a longer-term deal; Dish also has a contract deadline looming next week with Comcast’s (CMCSA, CMCSK) SportsNet regional sports network.
- Negotiations have become more complicated as discussions go beyond price to include streaming rights to computers and mobile devices, DirecTV CEO Mike White says.
Sep. 11, 2014, 10:18 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA +0.2%) and Liberty Global (LBTYA +3.1%) have agreed to allow users to access each others Wi-Fi networks, granting many Xfinity Internet and Liberty Global customers access to millions of new Wi-Fi access points in various countries by 2015.
- The two plan to trial the shared Wi-Fi service later in 2014 and offer it on a wide-scale in 2015.
- Comcast has more than 3M Xfinity WiFi hotspots in the U.S., while Liberty Global has more than 2.5M Wi-Fi home spots in various countries in Europe.
Apr. 9, 2014, 2:45 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA) has submitted a 180-page document to the FCC outlining why it should be allowed to acquire Time Warner Cable (TWC) for $45B.
- The filing comes ahead of hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee today about the deal.
- Comcast's main argument is that it doesn't compete with Time Warner in any market in cable TV or in broadband, and that it faces potential competition from the likes of Google's nascent broadband service.
- However, opponents believe that the increased power that the combined company will hold will hurt competition in the markets for video, television programming, broadband Internet access, and the $5B market for local cable advertising. There are also concerns about the implications for net neutrality.
Feb. 23, 2014, 4:25 AM
- Discovery Communications (DISCA) is in discussions with BSkyB (BSYBF) about a joint bid for the U.K.'s Channel 5, the FT reports.
- Channel 5 is being sold by British media businessman Richard Desmond, who bought the company for £104M in 2010 but hopes to receive £700M. Bids are due in on Thursday.
- BT (BT) and Comcast's (CMCSA) NBCUniversal are also considering making an offer.
Feb. 14, 2014, 4:58 AM
- Charter Communications (CHTR) is unlikely to make a counter-bid for Time Warner Cable (TWC), the WSJ reports, due to the gap between Comcast's (CMCSA) $158.82-a-share offer and Charter's $132.50 proposal.
- Instead, Charter is looking at other possible acquisitions, including the 3M managed subscribers that Comcast has pledged to sell in order to win antitrust approval for its deal.
- Charter will also look at other cable-TV firms, with one possible target Cox Communications.
Feb. 13, 2014, 6:47 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA) has confirmed reports that it has agreed to acquire Time Warner Cable (TWC) for $45.2B, or $158.82 a share.
- The transaction will generate $1.5B in savings and will be accretive to Comcast's cash flow, and it will be tax free to Time Warner's shareholders.
- The merger will create a cable TV behemoth with 30M subscribers, so it wouldn't be a surprise if it were to face huge, if not insurmountable, regulatory hurdles.
- Time Warner's shares are +12% at $151.50 premarket after closing at $135.31 yesterday. Comcast is +1.4%. (PR)
Jan. 13, 2014, 4:44 AM
- Sony's (SNE) "American Hustle" has picked up three Golden Globes, the most of any film, including Amy Adams as best actress.
- Meanwhile, Fox's (FOXA) "12 Years a Slave" won the coveted award for best drama.
- The achievements set up both films nicely for the Oscars - the nominations for which are due out on Thursday - and should help boost their box office receipts.
- "They have a lot to gain from tonight," says BoxOffice.com's Phil Contrino. "'12 Years a Slave' could easily double its domestic gross" in the U.S. and Canada.
- The awards for "American Hustle" come as Sony's film unit operates under intense scrutiny, particularly from Dan Loeb and especially after making an operating loss of $181M in FQ2.
- Comcast's (CMCSA) "Dallas Buyers Club" won two awards and AMC Networks' (AMCX) "Breaking Bad" gained another gong.
Dec. 6, 2013, 6:29 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA +0.4%) has tapped J.P. Morgan for advice as it evaluates a bid for Time Warner Cable (TWC -1.2%), Reuters reports.
- Sources said Comcast does not intend to make a pre-emptive bid, but may jump in if it looks like Charter Communications (CHTR +0.4%) is getting close to a deal.
- TWC, for its part, considers Comcast the best suitor given its ability to make an all-cash offer and the better nature of the geographic fit between the 2 operators.
- Previous: FCC commissioner doubts Comcast-TWC merger would be approved
Dec. 6, 2013, 2:44 AM
- The Obama administration probably wouldn't authorize any attempt by Comcast (CMCSA) to acquire Time Warner Cable (TWC), FCC Republican commissioner Ajit Pai has told the WSJ.
- Precedents such as the government's blocking of AT&T's purchase of T-Mobile US suggest a Comcast-TWC deal "could face a number of hurdles in the Obama administration," Pai said. "A Republican administration likely would be more inclined to approve a deal."
- TWC has already turned down two bids from Charter Communications (CHTR), the WSJ reports, adding that Comcast and Charter are unlikely to make a joint offer.
- While the interest in TWC has sent the telecom carrier's shares soaring, it has also hurt its bonds, due to fears about a debt overhang that a deal could bring. The price of TWC's 30-year bond that matures in 2042 has tumbled 17% since the merger chatter began.
Nov. 25, 2013, 1:59 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA) and Charter (CHTR) have reportedly discussed breaking up Time Warner Cable (TWC) in any joint bid for the company in order to overcome antitrust objections to a deal.
- The transaction would resemble Comcast's and Time Warner's acquisition of Adelphia Communications in 2006, when Comcast gained 1.7M customers and Time Warner 3.3M.
- A break-up of Time Warner would also make it easier for Charter to gain financing, given that it's much smaller than Time Warner.
- Meanwhile, the NYT carries a profile of John Malone, whose Liberty Media (LMCA) owns 27% of Charter. The article reports that Time Warner Cable has contacted Comcast about a possible transaction, leading to early talks.
Oct. 11, 2013, 3:30 AM
- Broadcasters could reportedly file a petition to the Supreme Court today to stop Aereo from operating due to copyright violations.
- The plaintiffs have suffered a string of legal losses in their attempts to shut Aereo down, the latest coming this week in Massachusetts.
- Backed by media mogul Barry Diller and InterActiveCorp (IACI), Aereo streams local-TV signals over the Web for $12 a month using thousands of tiny broadcast antennae.
- Those lining up against Aereo in the legal fight include Disney's (DIS) ABC, CBS (CBS), Fox (FOXA) and Comcast's (CMCSA) NBC.
Aug. 25, 2013, 8:30 AM
- Two years after Comcast (CMCSA) began its two-stage $30B acquisition of NBCUniversal, progress is mixed, the WSJ argues in a profile.
- NBCU's profits have grown, although the company has experienced patchy ratings. "The Voice" has done well, but "Today" lost its 15-year position as the leading morning program to ABC's "Good Morning America." NBC, once a crown jewel, is stuck in third place among the major networks.
- Meanwhile, CEO Steve Burke has been draining the swamp that was NBCU's intrigue and rival fiefdoms, although implementing his "Project Symphony" - i.e. generating synergies - is a work in progress.
Aug. 16, 2013, 3:26 AM
- Fox's (FOXA) national sports channel is due to launch tomorrow morning "with every major distributor on board," including DirecTV (DTV), Dish Network (DISH) and Time Warner Cable (TWC), as well as Comcast (CMCSA) and AT&T (T).
- Fox reportedly persuaded the TV companies to sign up after agreeing not to raise the price of $0.23 per subscriber they were paying for Speed, the auto-racing network that Fox Sports 1 is replacing. Fox had initially asked for $0.80.
- The new channel will reach 90M households and its line-up will include college football and Major League Baseball.
- However, Fox Sports 1 faces major competition from Disney's (DIS) money making machine, ESPN, which, as Fox Sports executive Randy Freer admits, "has a 30-year head start and an astronomical revenue stream."
Aug. 14, 2013, 3:55 AM
- State-owned distributor China Film Group has agreed to restart payments owed to U.S. film companies after the two sides resolved a dispute over whether a new value-added tax should be taken out of the studios' share of box-office receipts. The latter had argued that the roughly 2% tax wasn't their responsibility.
- The amount owed could reportedly top $200M. Companies that are or could be affected include Time Warner (TWX), Sony (SNE), Lions Gate (LGF), Fox (FOXA), Viacom (VIA), Comcast (CMCSA), and Dreamworks Animation (DWA).
Jul. 9, 2013, 3:31 AMHulu has reportedly received acquisition offers from DirecTV (DTV) and a consortium comprising Guggenheim Digital Media and private-equity firm KKR (KKR), as well as from a group made up of AT&T (T) and Chernin. Time Warner Cable (TWC) offered to acquire a stake and become an investor alongside Hulu's owners, 21st Century Fox (FOXA), Disney (DIS) and Comcast (CMCSA). There's no word on bid amounts, although DirecTV has offered over $1B in the past. | Comment!
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