While shares of CBS Corp. (CBS) are down on news of the abrupt departure of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Les Moonves, one team of analysts views the stock as undervalued given the company remains an attractive target for a strategic acquisition.
In an interview with CNBC on Monday, B. Riley FBR managing director and analyst Barton Crockett recommended buying shares of the TV network on the dip, indicating that investors should not write off an atypical takeover by a company outside of traditional media, naming Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and AT&T Inc. (T) as potential buyers.
(See also: CBS CEO Resigns amid Sexual Assault Allegations.)
CBS Content Could Be an 'Interesting Bolt Onto a Larger Platform'
On Sunday, CBS announced that its former chair, president, and CEO would immediately step down from his role in light of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct that spanned the length of his career. Chief Operating Officer (COO) Joseph Ianniello took on the leadership role for the interim as the board "conducts a search for a permanent successor."
Also on Sunday, CBS ended its hostility with National Amusements (NAI), which owns a controlling stake in the network, after the two firms dropped their lawsuits against one another. NAI indicated that it will not pursue the merger of CBS and Viacom for at least two years, and will consider "any business combination transaction or other strategic alternatives that the independent directors believe are in the best interests of the Company."
Crockett highlighted comments from NAI suggesting that it is open to looking at other possibilities, indicating that they could ultimately "make a lot of sense for CBS."
"CBS is a huge brand; it's the most watched network on TV. They also have Showtime, which is big and kind of direct-to-consumer. I think that CBS could be an interesting bolt onto a larger platform," said Crockett on CNBC's "Power Lunch." He noted that while CBS excels in content, it could use help with distribution. The B Riley analyst indicated that this strategy of adding content to "some other ecosystem," or a larger platform such as wireless, cable, communications or internet, was behind AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, The Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS) deal with 21st Century Fox Inc. (FOXA), and will likely be the driver of future deals.
"Ultimately, we are going to see that what works best from a consumer perspective is this combination," said Crockett.
Shares of CBS are down 0.4% on Tuesday morning at $54.98, reflecting a 6.8% decline year-to-date (YTD) compared to the S&P 500's 7.7% return over the same period.
(For more, see also: CBS Seen Rising By 18% Amid CEO Resignation.)