It was quite a week for
, which saw its stock rise well over 30% on the back of a strong buy recommendation from analyst Richard Baldry at First Albany. The company also posted an impressive quarter Thursday and hopes to be well along the road to profitability.
The Alviso, Calif., company lost $857,000, or a penny a share, against the year-ago $9.1 million, or 11 cents a share, while revenue rose 59% from a year ago to $40 million. The figures were much better than Wall Street had expected. The Thomson First Call analyst consensus called for an 11-cent loss on revenue of $37 million.
It didn't take long, however, for someone to take a contrarian view of the company's near-term prospects.
Piper Jaffray downgraded TiVo to underperform on Friday morning, citing a dependence on future cable and satellite deals. In a research report, Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said that the move in TiVo, whose shares have risen 54% over the last 10 days, is unwarranted, notwithstanding the first-quarter performance.
"Based on a continued decline in the growth rate of TiVo-owned subscribers, increasing future reliance on cable/satellite penetration, valuation and the length of time required to create a viable advertising model, we are downgrading shares to underperform," he said.
The stock was recently up 13 cents to $7.06, having earlier touched $7.75.
Despite good-looking deals with cable giant
, TiVo's once revolutionary technology faces stiff competition from cable companies deploying their own digital video recorders.
CEO Mike Ramsay said on a postclose conference call that the company is focused on turning a profit, signing distribution agreements, developing products and increasing the deployment of those products. TiVo has said that there are unique advertising opportunities that can be built into the company's technology.
"We're excited with opportunities in advertising, but it's still early days," said Ramsay. He noted that TiVo feels that between the Comcast Corp. and DirecTV deals, it can achieve a scale where its multiplatform capacities have the potential to change the standard in TV advertising.
To be sure, unique advertising opportunities do exist, and there are distribution agreements to be secured. But on both fronts TiVo appears to be fishing in uncertain waters. The big questions remain how and when the company will be able to deploy on this front. In his report, Piper Jaffray's Munster said, "We believe TiVo will not materially benefit from an advertising-based model within the next two years."
In the current media environment, two years is a heck of a long time.
Questions also were raised on the call about the degree to which Comcast would promote TiVo. The viability of a long-term relationship with DirecTV was also questioned. The company announced a competing DVR service from NDS Group PLC, a News Corp.-controlled subsidiary, which BSkyB, its European satellite service, already deploys.
TiVo investors might take a hard look back at Pegasus, a midsized satellite provider that News Corp. made a quick meal of last summer, for a reality check on this stock. After all, companies like Comcast and News Corp. know to keep their friends close and their next lunch even closer.
On afternoon trading Friday, TiVo was trading up 2% at $7.12.