EntertainmentWhy AT&T's Leisure Merger With Discovery Is a Win...

Why AT&T’s Leisure Merger With Discovery Is a Win for Shareholders


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When AT&T (NYSE:T) introduced an settlement to merge its WarnerMedia leisure division with cable community titan Discovery (NASDAQ:DISC.A) (NASDAQ:DISCK) on Could 17, AT&T’s inventory sank. It continued to slip decrease over the subsequent six months and hovers close to a 52-week low on the time of this writing.

The merger will see AT&T cut back its dividend, however that is smart given the lack of the WarnerMedia division’s income. In trade, shareholders will obtain inventory within the new firm, to be referred to as Warner Bros. Discovery. In my opinion, it is a boon for shareholders.

Warner Bros. Discovery is positioned to expertise years of development, whereas the WarnerMedia spinoff permits AT&T buyers to higher consider the group on its robust telco enterprise. A take a look at WarnerMedia and Discovery illustrates the potential energy of the mixed firm.

Picture supply: Getty Photos.

WarnerMedia’s resurgence

When the pandemic struck final 12 months, WarnerMedia was hit laborious by theater closures, the cancellation of sporting occasions, and a spending pullback from advertisers. This division suffered a year-over-year income drop of 13.7% in 2020.

However in 2021, it skilled a powerful restoration. It earned $25.8 billion in income by way of three quarters, a 17.7% improve from 2020’s $21.9 billion.

WarnerMedia’s streaming service, HBO Max, helped that income development. The service launched in Could 2020; since then, WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer enterprise has elevated income and the variety of HBO subscribers each quarter.

Quarter International HBO Subscribers Direct-to-Shopper Income
Q3 2021 69.4 million $2.24 billion
Q2 2021 67.5 million $2.14 billion
Q1 2021 63.9 million $1.93 billion
This autumn 2020 60.6 million $1.90 billion
Q3 2020 56.9 million $1.78 billion
Q2 2020 55.6 million $1.63 billion
Q1 2020 53.8 million $1.50 billion

Knowledge supply: AT&T.

Forecasts predict that HBO Max will exceed 100 million subscribers within the subsequent two years. Nearly all of subscribers are from the U.S., giving the service a world development alternative.

HBO Max is not the one purpose for WarnerMedia’s success. Its theatrical income is recovering properly from 2020’s decline. In Q3, it reached $1.3 billion, the very best complete for the reason that fourth quarter of 2019. With hits similar to Dune and widespread mental properties together with Batman, WarnerMedia’s theatrical income is well-positioned to proceed rising.

Its promoting enterprise can be rejuvenated. Whereas Q3 advert income was down 12.4% 12 months over 12 months as a result of timing of sporting occasions and decrease political advert spending, 2021 advert income by way of three quarters was up 15.1% to $4.9 billion.

Discovery’s strengths

Discovery provides its personal strengths to the merger. Its CEO, David Zaslav, will take the reins of the brand new firm. He has been Discovery’s CEO since earlier than it went public in 2008.

Underneath Zaslav, the corporate launched its personal streaming product in the beginning of this 12 months. Since then, Discovery grew the service to twenty million subscribers by way of the top of Q3, up 3 million from Q2.

The streaming service helped the corporate develop Q3 income 23% 12 months over 12 months to $3.2 billion. After three quarters, Discovery’s $9 billion in 2021 income positions the corporate to exceed 2020’s full-year complete income of $10.7 billion by the top of this 12 months.

Discovery’s success wasn’t due solely to new streaming subscribers. The corporate’s promoting earnings roared again from pandemic-induced declines in 2020, notably in worldwide markets, the place it skilled 28% year-over-year development in Q3.

The Q3 outcomes adopted Q2’s whopping 88% year-over-year improve in worldwide income. General, 2021 promoting income was up 13% 12 months over 12 months to $4.5 billion by way of three quarters.

Discovery additionally manages its funds properly. Whole belongings of $34.3 billion eclipsed complete liabilities of $20.9 billion final quarter. The corporate had $3.1 billion in Q3 money and equivalents and generated free money flows of $1.6 billion up to now this 12 months. Price financial savings will end result from the WarnerMedia merger, serving to to proceed Discovery’s monitor report of economic well being.

A win for shareholders

Discovery enhances WarnerMedia very properly. Discovery’s portfolio of nonfiction tv networks, similar to Animal Planet and the Meals Community, provides to WarnerMedia’s widespread fiction choices, which incorporates Mates and the Harry Potter franchise.

Buyers can obtain AT&T’s high-yield dividend, presently at an eye-popping 8.62%, till the merger by shopping for the telecom inventory now. When the merger completes in mid-2022, AT&T shareholders will obtain Warner Bros. Discovery shares equal to 71% of the brand new firm. From there, buyers can proceed incomes a dividend from AT&T whereas benefiting from Warner Bros. Discovery’s development alternative.

With a potent new firm in Warner Bros. Discovery, and a longtime telecom big in AT&T, which continues to be within the early phases of its 5G community rollout, buyers can stay up for compelling alternatives from each firms within the years forward.

This text represents the opinion of the author, who could disagree with the “official” suggestion place of a Motley Idiot premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one in all our personal — helps us all assume critically about investing and make choices that assist us develop into smarter, happier, and richer.

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