Too bad the big media company doesn’t have a an older-skewing cable or broadcast network that can air gripping boardroom dramas of people in high-priced suits and office wear.
We speak, of course, of the tussle behind the control of Viacom, in which Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, and another board member, George Abrams, were ousted from "the trust that will oversee Sumner Redstone’s $40 billion media empire when he dies or is incapacitated," as the Wall Street Journalwrites. Redstone’s daughter Shari Redstone is also involved. Lawsuits and accusations are now flying around — and media analysts are sifting through the sands.
This comes as Viacom has
already been hit with sharply lower valuation over the past 12 months — in part because of declining ratings at some networks, and subsequent weakening advertising sales. Its stock is down 40%
from the last year.
Brian Wieser, media analyst for Pivotal Research Group, says all this "only appears to amplify a toxic situation, where investors have little sense of who will control the company in the months (if not years) ahead.”
Still he says, somewhat positively, "If the current management team is retained, we think the business should continue towards industry-level growth.”
Good news for new investors: The stock is trading 8 or 9 times earnings. “That is dirt cheap,” Wieser tells CNBC. “In a low interest environment, that is nothing -- even with all the risks around the company.”
But make no mistake about it, investors like consistency and predictable trends when it comes to revenue and those senior executives in charge. Media analysts would like to give Viacom a pass -- for a time -- but aren’t going to wait forever. All that will make things difficult for the company, if not its stock price.
On Monday, news of a lawsuit from Dauman and Abrams, as well as the subsequent Viacom countersuit, gave Viacom’s stock a rough ride -- up and down dramatically -- finally closing at up 2.3%, to $39.95.