As the popularity of streaming video continues to ascend higher, major media outlets are showing signs that they are no longer willing to let Netflix reap all the benefits. Walt Disney’s announcement last week to acquire the majority of 21 Century Fox for $70 billion is just the latest sign, and could spur a wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
Possible M&A Candidates
Some possible target candidates for an acquisition include Viacom Inc. (VIA), AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (AMC), MSG Networks Inc. (MSGN), Dish Network Corp. (DISH), and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF.A), according to Barron’s. (To read more, see: Disney Is Poised to Break Out on Fox Deal.)
As of the close of trading on Thursday, Viacom is down more than 9% year to date, and is trading at a forward price-to-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) of 8.86; AMC is down 54% on the year and is trading at a forward P/E of 41.62; MSG is down 4% and is trading at a forward P/E of 9.07; Dish is down 15% and is trading at a forward P/E of 22.43; and Lions Gate is up 25% and is trading at a trailing twelve-month (TTM) P/E ratio of 31.68.
Like the P/E ratio, investors often use the multiple of enterprise value to EBITDA (i.e. earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), to gauge how dearly valued a company is. Netflix has clearly been a favored investment with a value of 46.9 for the multiple, while Viacom’s is 7.1, AMC’s is 6.7, MSG’s is 7.2, Dish’s is 13.5, and Lions Gate’s is 13.6, as of the publishing of the Barron’s article on December 16.
Disney's Next Move
With Netflix an investor favorite, Disney’s deal to acquire Fox suggests the media giant is getting serious about joining the streaming revolution before it gets left behind. During the summer, Disney revealed intentions to begin offering its own streaming services after claiming that it would be pulling its content off of Netflix. Following the merger, Disney will have a 60% ownership stake in Hulu, a streaming media content provider. (To read more, see: Why Disney and Comcast Should Fear Netflix.)
In order to acquire even more streaming content, Viacom, AMC and MSG all could be attractive buys with their relatively low enterprise to EBITDA values. While both Dish and Lions Gate are trading at relatively higher multiples, Dish is an attractive play due to its significant spectrum holdings and Lions Gate’s high valuation likely already “reflects takeover interest,” according to Barron’s.