After cinema and cable TV, ways of delivering multimedia content continued to evolve. First, there was satellite TV; later, systems that integrated digital video recording; and finally, Internet streaming. Below I will look into one company of each kind, DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH), TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ:TIVO) and Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), in order to elucidate which ones stand a chance of succeeding in a constantly evolving environment and, thus, comprise good investments.
Dish Network: Satellite TV
DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) offers, among the three firms that will be analyzed here, the oldest of technologies: satellite TV. However, the management is aware that this industry has already peaked and will probably start to decline soon. It has started a bidding war with Japan’s Softbank to acquire Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S), the third largest U.S. communications carrier, in order to diversify its business. Nevertheless, the outlook does not look very promising, especially after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) cleared the proposed merger between Sprint and Softbank. Although the deal is not sealed and Dish has still got some cards to play, its chances are not many. Then again, this is not necessarily bad. Even though business diversification looks like a wise choice for DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH), analysts believe that the Sprint bid was a little too risky.
Going forward, one can expect traditional TV to be around for a while. Nevertheless, growth opportunities aren’t many, and competition in the U.S. continues to increase as other communications companies like AT&T and Verizon enter the cable business. Moreover, as producers demand higher prices for their multimedia content, Dish’s margins will be hit again.
The company has also tried to cope with the maturity of the TV market by introducing innovative products, the latest of which is an HD Digital Video Recording set that allows fast-forwarding through commercials in prime time TV shows. In addition, its
low-cost product offering positions it ahead of its competition and generates client stickiness. Furthermore, improved operational metrics and the launch of a nationwide satellite-based broadband service should drive growth in the upcoming quarters.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned pros and a 422% return on equity (versus the 18.4% industry mean), I’d recommend a HOLD on DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) for now, not only due to its limited growth prospects, but also on account of its high valuation at 35.3 times its earnings, over double the 14.8x P/E industry average.
TiVo: Digital Video
TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ:TIVO) started one step ahead of DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH). It was the first company to offer digital video recorders to individuals. At a time when Internet streaming did not exist or wasn’t widespread, TiVo appeared as an innovative option that allowed users to record TV shows, pause them and fast-forward through commercials. Over the years, the brand name became a slang noun used to describe the action of recording a transmission.
After mixed results in the last reported quarter, missing consensus estimates by a few cents but coming ahead of the bearish expectations, the stock price started rising and now trades very close to a 3-year high. Trading at a much more expensive valuation than its peers in relation to its earnings and sales, but expected to deliver an annual average EPS growth rate around 56% over the next five years, is this stock still a BUY? I’d say it is; below, some extra reasons to feel confident about the firm’s long-term future.
From my point of view, the main driver of TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ:TIVO)’s growth in the upcoming years will be its innovative products that include the TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ:TIVO) mini and TiVo Stream devices, which have offered encouraging early results. Furthermore, the company holds several partnerships with content creators, media and advertising companies like Comcast, Conax, Technicolor, Gemstar, NBC, CBS, Com Hem (Sweden), Cablevision (Mexico), Seven Network Limited (Australia), ONO (Spain), Virgin Media (U.K.) and Canal Digital (Scandinavia), which provide plenty of growth opportunities in overseas markets, helping relieve the pressure excreted by decelerating subscription rates in the U.S. In addition, the firm still has plenty of space left to develop its advertising business; the recent acquisition of TRA, an advertising analytics company, sure is a step in the right direction.