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A Russian Media Firm That May Actually Help Your Portfolio

Stocks in this article: CTCM

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( MagicDiligence) -- The easiest way to think about CTC Media (CTCM) is as "the Russian CBS (CBS)." While many understandably flinch at the idea of investing in such a volatile country as Russia, CTC looks like a well-run, conservative outfit. This broadcast network is debt-free (pretty remarkable for a media company) and has nearly $130 million in cash on the balance sheet. Operating margins and cash flow generation have been steady over the past 5 years, even in the 2008-09 period. Share dilution has been minimal.

Of particular interest is the firm's recent payment of dividends. While there seems to be no consistent policy (it has been quarter-to-quarter), there have now been 6 consecutive quarterly dividends. The stated dividend intention of $130 million for fiscal 2010 represents a roughly 8.7% yield on the current market cap of $1.5 billion.

That's a significant payout on top of what is also a value story. CTC's MFI earnings yield is 17% (P/E ratio is 9.1), extremely low for a 20% grower in a long-tail growth market. The stock's current price of $9.50 or so is right near the 52-week low. By comparison, the 52-week high is $25, a 178% gap! At current valuations, CTC seems to have a lot of upside with limited downside and a large dividend yield for protection.

CTC operates 3 networks: CTC, the largest under its umbrella, is currently the No. 4 TV station in Russia, reaching 94% of Russian households and carrying an 11% audience share in its target 6-54 demographic. Domashny, launched in 2005, is a network targeting 25-60 year old female viewers (a desirable advertising demographic), reaching 82% of households with a 3% share. Finally there is DTV, acquired in 2008 and targeting 25-54 year old viewers, reaching 73% of households and holding a 2% audience share.

CTC also has a number of other businesses, including smaller networks in Kazakhstan and Moldova, a YouTube-clone called, content production studios and a number of company-owned regional stations. The majority of broadcast stations are independently owned and operated affiliates. Virtually all of the company's revenue is from traditional, free over-the-air advertising.

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