2010 Vancouver Olympics Winners and Losers

By Will Ashworth | January 05, 2010 AAA

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics are just around the corner. While the athletes make their final preparations, I thought I'd look at some of the companies that are vying for their share of Olympic glory. As in all competitive pursuits, only a few will come out on top.
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Whistler Congested
Let's start with the losers. No one (in my opinion) stands to lose more at the Vancouver Olympics than Fortress Investment Group (NYSE:FIG), owner of Whistler-Blackcomb, the resort where many of the Olympic events are being held. Fortress, which has seen Intrawest's value drop by 70% from the $1.8 billion it paid in 2006, has two revenue problems because of the Olympics. First, only 6,000 skiers will be on the hills during the 16-day event, two-thirds the normal amount. Second, it lowered its annual ski pass to $1,100 Canadian in order to entice people to brave the crowds in February. For a business in severe financial trouble, the Olympics couldn't have come at a worse time.

NBC Won't Make Money
General Electric (NYSE:GE) CEO Jeffrey Immelt said in December that NBC would lose $200 million from its $820 million investment in the 2010 Winter Olympics, suggesting the current economy couldn't possibly deliver a winner. However, if you read a little further and you'll see there's a silver lining to this story.

Better Late Than Never
And now, let's talk about some of the winners. VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee, had been negotiating a sponsorship deal with SNC-Lavalin (TSE:SNC) a year ago, but the talks stopped due to the recession. The multinational construction company is responsible for Vancouver's new Canada Line transit link to the airport. It has recently jumped on board as the games approach. This is a great opportunity to tell the world about its business.

Food and Drink
Of all the Olympics international partners, the two that appear poised to most benefit from the games are McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO). As we're watching the sports on our couch, their ads are going to be awfully powerful subliminal suggestions that many of us will likely act upon on several occasions during the 16-day event. Is it enough to make a dent in their revenues? We'll find out in March or April.

A Competitor to ESPN Is Born
In December, Comcast (Nasdaq:CMCSA) announced it was entering a joint venture with General Electric that would ultimately end up with the cable company owning NBC Universal. As part of the deal, Comcast threw in some cable programming including the Versus Sports Network, whose primary assets include the NHL and college football. You can be sure that Dick Ebersol, the head of NBC Sports, will use the Olympics as the springboard for the new "Peacock Sports Network", combining the Versus properties with NBC's sports know-how. Look out ESPN!

Bottom Line
There's much more at stake in Vancouver than just gold, silver and bronze medals. (To learn more, check out Conglomerates: Cash Cows Or Corporate Chaos?)

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