Well, behind the scenes, TiVo is pushing hard to become a growth stock again. The company has poured millions into software development, and its DVR systems now have capabilities that many cable operators have only begun to think about. For example, TiVo's software allows you to set up recording from anywhere, and it also facilitates video playback to your mobile device, even if the show is stuck on a hard drive back at your house.
TiVo has been making the rounds with major cable operators, imploring them to give up their home-brewed DVR software and switch back to Tivo's software. The campaign is working: Spain's ONO and the U.K.'s Virgin Media have become big customers. Here in the U.S., Charter Communications (CHTR) and other cable operators are also said to be taking the company's newly revamped software for a test drive.
Yet it's the balance sheet you should also be watching. A string of legal victories -- and big cash settlements -- have boosted Tivo's cash from $209 million in fiscal (January) to a recent $540 million, and that figure could swell above $700 million, thanks to a just-announced legal settlement with Verizon. Still, pending lawsuits with Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Google (GOOG) could push cash towards the $1 billion mark. The whole company is valued at just $1.3 billion, meaning the core software business is accorded little value.MDC Partners This is an ad agency -- with a twist. Although MDC (MDCA) offers the usual agency services offered by bigger rivals such as Interpublic (IPG) and Omnicom (OMC), it's real focus is on digital marketing. MDC is an expert at helping old world companies get their brands in front of the new breed of digital consumer, whether they are in front of a computer or on their smart phones. Shares of MDC had fallen from $20 last summer to below $10 this spring, but have begun a rebound back towards the low teens as the company starts to deliver more impressive cash flow. Cash flow had been constrained by a series of acquisitions that also diverted management's attention. Nowadays, management is focusing on making the most of what is on its plate, with a goal of squeezing a lot more cash flow out of this business in the quarters to come.