NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- For well over a year now, I've beat the drum on big media stocks.
I am about to sell the shares of Viacom (VIAB) I hold long in my daughter's custodial account for a, presumably, double-digit profit.
More than simple profit taking drives the VIAB decision. I'm concerned about the company.We know ratings at Nickelodeon have been hurting for a while. Some blame SpongeBob; others the convenience of KidsTV on Netflix (NFLX). While it's likely a mix of both, something bigger looms. A larger-than-the-sum-of-its-parts trend. From The Wall Street Journal comes word that it's not just Nick. Numbers at MTV and Comedy Central are down as well. In fairness, the WSJ reports that Time Warner and Comcast (CMCSA) have seen similar ratings' declines at TBS and USA Network, respectively. Chalk these decreases up to several very real reasons -- warm weather late in the year in much of the country, impact of streaming/on-demand, the home stretch of the baseball season and the start of football. These things all play a role, however, as I see it, it's the final two sports-related explanations that tell the tale at Viacom. Simply stated, Viacom doesn't have meaningful sports programming to speak of. It's not like it's filmed entertainment division (Paramount) has been picking up the slack for lackluster network performance. We'll see how the most recent quarter plays out (Viacom reports on Nov. 15), but for the third quarter of 2012, global revenue tanked 14%. The company blames a strong third quarter in 2011, fueled by beneficial timing of programming and new releases, for the shortfall. I'm not quite sure I buy it. A stock I am now accumulating, News Corp (NWSA), performed well and appears set to move higher if you dig deeper into its wimpy 1% year-over-year revenue increase for the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in June.
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