CBS Corp.: Ad-verse exposure hurts
THR's 2008 corporate scorecardsTHR rating: 1 out of 5
Despite a December rally, shares of CBS recorded the biggest decline among U.S. media biggies this year: As of Monday, the stock is down 70% to $7.56. Blame it on the recession, which affects CBS more than many of its peers because of a greater exposure to advertising.
The acquisition this year of CNET Networks also concerned Wall Street, though fans of the $1.8 billion deal highlight that CBS overnight became a top 10 Web player. President and CEO Leslie Moonves said the deal will prove its value, but he admitted he wouldn't acquire CNET again in today's difficult environment.
Radio remains a challenge for CBS and others. CBS has been trading and selling smaller stations, but doing so even after prices for such assets have crumbled.
The Eye quietly has reduced staff across its divisions, and Moonves has defended the network TV model, which some in the industry claim is broken.
The Street has several open questions for CBS entering 2009. Chief among them: How will chairman and controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone handle his debt problems? And will the company reduce its dividend to put aside additional cash in an uncertain environment?
One analyst recently put his long-term, sum-of-the-parts valuation of CBS at $29 a share -- 293% higher than Monday's closing price.
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