Two Analysts Upgrade CBS Corp. Stock Amid Recent Decline

President and CEO of CBS Corp Leslie Moonves-Launch of Fallout: New Vegas-2010
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

While early fall TV season ratings are down, one Wall Street expert predicts "significant upside" for the stock, while the other calls its current price "compelling."


Amid most broadcast networks' weaker start to the fall TV season and concerns about the outlook for the advertising market, CBS Corp.'s stock has trended down in recent weeks.

But on Monday, two Wall Street analysts came out in support of the stock with upgrades that highlighted its upside potential ahead of the Wednesday earnings report from the company, which is led by president and CEO Leslie Moonves. The stock experts argued there was solid upside for CBS Corp.'s stock given its value in comparison to other sector giants and the company's reduced dependence on advertising revenue.

Evercore Partners analyst Alan Gould in his report emphasized that the stock, which closed at $33.21 on Friday, after the recent decline has a "compelling valuation." Over the past year, the stock has traded as low as $23.35 and as high as $38.32, a mark set only in late September before a retreat.

As a result, Gould upgraded the stock from "equal-weight" to "overweight," a rating similar to other analysts' "buy" recommendations. His price target stands at $38.

CBS Corp.'s valuation "has become more attractive with the disappointing new prime time season," Gould said. At his projected 18 percent five-year earnings per share growth rate, "the stock trades at a discount to the market and at one of the lowest multiples in the group," he explained.

Gould did acknowledge the ratings weakness further though, highlighting that CBS audiences in the 18-49 year age range are down 21 percent for the first five weeks of the TV season when looking at live and same day ratings. But citing what he called the "Ashton Kutcher effect" at Two and a Half Men, he argued: "The vast majority of CBS's weakness is due to its Monday night schedule, which is down 39 percent."

Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente, in a report entitled "Eye of the Tiger," also upgraded his rating on CBS Corp. to "overweight," citing "significant upside" for the stock.

"CBS shares have underperformed the S&P 500 by 9 percent over the past two months, providing investors with what we believe is an attractive entry point to own a premium collection of media assets at the most attractive...valuation in U.S. media," he wrote. "Given its increasing exposure to recurring affiliate fees, growing demand for syndicated content, and digital distribution opportunities, CBS fundamentals are less exposed to cyclical advertising revenue than many investors assume."

He raised his price target on the stock from $40 to $42.

DiClemente highlighted that amid demand from online video players, such as Netflix, "content revenue sources are healthy and growing" at CBS,  and shareholder-friendly capital returns from stock buybacks and dividends have continued.