Entertainment Moguls to Address Wall Street Next Week as 2011 Enters Home Stretch

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NEW YORK - What is known as "the longest running show on Wall Street" returns next week as UBS will once again let analysts and investors quiz entertainment industry moguls at its 39th annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference here.

As always, the year-end Wall Street tradition will put the advertising market outlook in focus, but also ask what's next for digital content deals and how much appetite companies have for potential acquisitions, among other things. Plus, executives, such as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who will travel to the East Coast for the event, get to reassure investors and analysts that their companies can overcome current or future challenges.

"What are the important trends in video consumption, distribution and monetization?" will also be a recurring theme, said Aryeh Bourkoff, vice chairman, head of investment banking Americas at UBS. Plus, the conference will explore whether technology companies are becoming more like media companies.

As every year, the UBS conference will bring media, entertainment and telecom top executives together at midtown Manhattan's Grand Hyatt hotel Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, giving Street observers a chance to rethink their entertainment industry investment choices ahead of the new year.

After opening remarks from Bourkoff, the UBS gathering will kick off Monday morning with the always popular ad outlook panel for the new year, featuring a group of prognosticators.

A keynote appearance from Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman on Monday is expected to feature questions on the outlook for Paramount Pictures and the recent ratings challenges at kids network Nickelodeon. Among other big industry names speaking on Monday are Lionsgate vice chairman Michael Burns, AOL chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong and Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei.

Tuesday's UBS schedule includes keynotes from CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves who is expected to once again highlight latest ad trends, Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes and Netflix's Hastings, whose company has seen its stock fall sharply as of late amid what critics have called strategic missteps.Netflix wasn't at the UBS affair last year.

Also on the Tuesday lineup: AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan, whose cable networks company is newly public, new Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia president and COO Lisa Gersh and Rob Wiesenthal, CFO of Sony Corp. of America.

News Corp. deputy chairman, president and COO Chase Carey will wrap up the keynotes on Wednesday when he is expected to highlight that the conglomerate's business momentum has continued despite the phone hacking scandal. Some Street observers have said that Carey could eventually take over the CEO role from chairman Rupert Murdoch.
 
Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav will also share his latest thoughts and outlook on the conference's final day.

Just like last year, no speaker from the Walt Disney Co. is scheduled to present at the event.

A year after the then-nearing close of the Comcast-NBCUniversal deal was a focus at the conference, Comcast was a late addition to the agenda for next week as CFO Michael Angelakis and Comcast Cable head Neil Smit will speak to attendees.

Other key topics of last year's UBS conference, such as cord cutting and premium VOD, could once again draw investor questions this year. Plus, expect Wall Street attendees to be curious if sector executives plan to pay higher dividends and continue stock buybacks to reward shareholders, which has already been a focus for many media and entertainment companies.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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