As battle lines are being drawn between ailing media mogul Sumner Redstone and the Viacom (VIAB) - Get Report board, an RBC Capital Markets analyst has urged investors to avoid the shares of the company until a winner emerges.
The analysis comes a day after Frederic Salerno, the lead independent director at Viacom, issued a letter to shareholders declaring the directors would legally contest any attempts to remove them from the board by Redstone, the 93-year-old controlling shareholder whose failing health and attempts to remove board members has sparked the showdown. On May 20, Redstone removed Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and George Abrams from his trust, National Amusements, which controls Viacom and CBS (CBS) - Get Report .
In turn, on May 23, both men filed a lawsuit to remain part of the seven-person trust. Abrams has been a non-independent director at Redstone's trust since 2006, and a director of Viacom and CBS since 1987.
But while the combatants are intently focused on the battle, shareholders may be losing the war.
Viacom -- whose assets include MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures -- has seen ratings decline at its MTV and Comedy Central cable networks, which in turn has hampered ad growth, according to RBC's Steven Cahall in a research note Tuesday.
"The focus on the power struggle has forgotten the structural challenges, with no quick fixes," writes Cahall. The analyst goes on to advise investors to take profits now and "avoid the shares until a strategic turnaround is articulated."
Even though speculation surrounding management change could be a hopeful sign to many investors, new management would still face many issues. Cahall notes that with an expected earnings decline of 19% over the next 12 months, it will be a "tough turnaround for any manager."
Furthermore, the RBC analyst said he believes that because no U.S. media companies have any interest in cable networks, it leaves only the "infamous foreign buyer" as a potential suitor.
RBC rated Viacom Class B shares underperform, with a price target of $34.
So investors should beware of the corporate soap opera, take profits on the current event-driven run and wait until there is an articulate strategic improvement.
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.