EmptyAnother year, another promotion for Time Warner's Jeffrey Bewkes. At the start of 2008, he took the CEO reins from Richard Parsons, and Thursday, he'll add the chairman title.
In his first year at the helm, Bewkes and CFO John Martin began the process of refocusing the conglomerate on its content businesses. But things have moved more slowly than many had hoped.
The coming year should be eventful, though. In May, the company decided on a complete separation of Time Warner Cable, which should happen early in the new year. And some expect a sale of AOL in 2009, possibly to a competitor, in return for TW getting a stake in the merged company.
Meanwhile, TW will get a $9.25 billion one-time dividend payment as part of the separation, which will give the conglomerate a bigger war chest for potential acquisitions or further payouts to shareholders.
TW's cable networks have held up better than most in a declining ad market, but HBO sorely needs new hit shows. Through the first three quarters of 2008, the core film and TV networks units boosted their bottom lines — this despite weaker revenue in the film business.
Shares have held up better than most of the competition, but they remain off 40% to $9.65 as of Monday. Stanford Research recently declared that TW "stands positioned to grow despite the economic recession," mostly because of its networks and film businesses. The firm predicts shares will advance 66% to $16 in the next year.