With Game of Thrones having officially concluded, let’s analyze the winners and losers of Game of Thrones last season. Given that season 8 is the last season, a show record 44.2 million viewers tuned in on average if delayed viewing is counted. In contrast, the finale of one of TV’s biggest shows, The Big Bang Theory, only reached 18 million viewers. Since we’re a stock site, let’s analyze the which stocks won and which stocks lost during the show’s run, and how the smart money is positioned among them.
Our research has shown that hedge funds’ small-cap stock picks managed to beat the market by double digits annually between 1999 and 2016, but the margin of outperformance has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, we were still able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the market by 32 percentage points since May 2014 through March 12, 2019 (see the details here). We were also able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that underperformed the market by 10 percentage points annually between 2006 and 2017. Interestingly the margin of underperformance of these stocks has been increasing in recent years. Investors who are long the market and short these stocks would have returned more than 27% annually between 2015 and 2017. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 in our quarterly newsletter.
Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) leads off as a winner of the last season of game of thrones. Due to a coffee cup placed in a conspicuous location in one episode, Starbucks received a lot of free publicity, and free publicity as they say, equals demand. According to some estimates, Starbucks received as much as $2.3 billion in free advertising, even though the coffee cup wasn’t even a Starbucks one. That phenomena just illustrates how dominant Starbucks is in the consumer coffee sector. Of the around 700-740 elite funds we track, 42 funds owned $3.37 billion of Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) on December 31, versus 33 funds and $934.94 million respectively on September 30.
HBO owner AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a winner and a loser as season 8’s ratings below past season 7’s ratings. Although HBO doesn’t have ads, more ratings theoretically correlates with more subscribers, which correlates with more revenue. AT&T is also a winner in that the Game of Thrones spin-offs will likely be well received at least initially whenever they come out. The stock is a loser in that the company will need to find another ‘tent-pole’ show to bring subscribers in after Game of Throne’s end. Of the around 700-740 elite funds we track, 56 funds owned $1.85 billion of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) on December 31, versus 70 funds and $3.76 billion respectively on September 30.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is a winner in that Game of Thrones shows can be bought via on iTunes, where Apple takes a cut of the sales. Game of Thrones’ end also means that Apple’s upcoming streaming service will face less competition, at least initially before the spin-offs. Given Apple’s large cash pile, it can afford to build its own ‘Game of Thrones’ -style shows that can bring in subscribers. Warren Buffett is a big holder of Apple and has built it into one of his largest portfolio positions.
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is a loser and a winner in that Netflix arguably lost some potential subscribers during Game of Thrones’ run. Between having Netflix and HBO Now, many would choose the latter if new Game of Thrones were streaming. Netflix is a winner in that it will have less competition now that Game of Thrones has concluded, at least initially. Of the around 700-740 elite funds we track, 83 funds owned $6.53 billion of Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) on December 31, versus 84 funds and $8.78 billion respectively on September 30.
Similar to Netflix, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) is both a winner and a loser. Disney is a loser initially in that Game of Thrones likely reduced viewing for Disney’s various TV shows. Disney is a winner now that Game of Thrones is over and Disney’s streaming product will have less demand, at least until the spin-offs come out. 71 elite funds owned shares of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) at the end of the fourth quarter, up 8 funds from the previous quarter.