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Did Comcast Overpay for NBC?

Did Comcast Overpay for NBC?

NBC, one of the nation's least popular TV networks, is in serious trouble.

In February, the Los Angeles Times' Scott Collins detailed NBC's painful decline.

"The Broadway drama 'Smash'…bombed on its return, with low ratings that shocked even TV veterans," Collins wrote. "The medical thriller 'Do No Harm' posted the worst numbers ever for a new network drama."

NBC also fell from fourth to fifth place in overall network ratings.

Despite the decline, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) still decided to purchase General Electric's (NYSE: GE) remaining stake in NBC for more than $16 billion.

That is quite a hefty price tag considering that it only accounts for roughly 50 percent of the company.

"I think they…paid quite a healthy price," David Marcus, co-founder, CEO and CIO of Evermore Global Advisors, told Benzinga. "It looked like a very rich price, but at the same time, we'll know over time."

For the sake of comparison, Marcus pointed to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWS), which "paid some crazy number to get Monday Night Football."

"Within just a few years that was sort of a low number," said Marcus. "Comcast has surprised people a lot over the years. They've made very big acquisitions. They've transformed themselves from sort of a regional cable operator to a powerhouse media company. And I think they've for the most part delivered the promise and they've created a lot of value for the shareholders."

Shifting the focus to European markets, Marcus compared NBC to ailing (but promising) firms in Europe.

"The key is, you want people out there to be overpaying if you're a seller, obviously," said Marcus. "And that's the other thing that's happening -- when you're in a low-growth environment, companies typically start buying growth because their businesses aren't growing. So they buy assets, divisions, products and services. You want to own the targets, obviously.

"I think that's another reason why Europe is compelling -- because the companies are not expensive, probably have decent balance sheets overall, and they are targets. If you are a dollar-denominated business, the Euro has been weak, so you have a strong currency to buy assets over there. You may not be getting growth, but maybe you're adding onto your product line. You're building out your services. You're taking away a competitor that you once had. The key is, you might be buying a company in Germany, but 80 percent of their business is outside of Germany. So it's more of an international business."

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

Posted-In: ComcastLong Ideas M&A News Short Ideas Tech Media Trading Ideas Best of Benzinga


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