Hasbro’s eOne Posts Q4 Profit, Ups Revenue Despite Pandemic

Hasbro’s Entertainment One (eOne) subsidiary Feb. 8 reported fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 27, 2020) operating income of $46 million, compared with an operating loss of $34.8 million during the previous-year period, (ended Dec. 29, 2019) based on an adjusted pro-forma basis. Revenue increased 10% to $259.6 million, from $235.2 million. Hasbro acquired eOne for $4 billion in Q1 2020.

Revenue increased in the quarter as live-action TV and film production resumed. 2020 operating profit included $34.7 million of acquisition and related charges, and $25.5 million of purchased intangible amortization associated with the fair value of acquired intangible assets.

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Hasbro’s film and TV production revenue declined 15% to $110 million, from $130.2 million in the previous-year period on lower consumer products revenue as well as lower entertainment revenue, partially offset by growth in digital gaming. The previous 2019 quarter included Bumblebee movie revenue in partnership with Paramount Pictures. Operating profit decreased due to lower revenue, partially offset by growth in licensed digital gaming and cost management.

“Throughout 2020, the global Hasbro team did an excellent job executing in a challenging environment,” CFO Deborah Thomas said in a statement. “In the fourth quarter, we grew revenues and adjusted operating profit, overcoming tough comparisons within the partner brand category and last year’s theatrical releases.”

Analyst Predicts 1 Million Fewer New Q4 Netflix Subscribers

Netflix is projecting subscriber growth of six million for the fiscal period ended Dec. 31, 2020 — topping 201 million subs worldwide. Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said he believes that tally will come in about 1 million less at 5 million, including 300,000 in North America, largely due to recent price hikes.

“We think this is likely given the price increase implemented in late October … [where] standard monthly subscription fees went to $14 from $13 and premium fees went to $18 from $16,” Pachter wrote in a Jan. 14 note. The analyst contends the price hike will up revenue to $6.6 billion from guidance of $6.57 billion.

The longtime Netflix bear notably marveled at Netflix’s ability to keep the content pipeline fresh during the pandemic when most production in Hollywood was shut down. Specifically, Pachter cites Netflix adding foreign content across markets, cross-promoting new genres to audiences, and purchasing/reviving dormant franchises such as “The Karate Kid” (“Cobra Kai”) and “Full House” (“Fuller House”), among others.

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“Netflix’s experience in adapting foreign content to new markets has resulted in the company maintaining its content quantity lead over its competitors,” Pachter wrote. “We expect that lead to be sustained for the foreseeable future.”

If there was a silver lining during the pandemic, shuttered content production accelerated Netflix’s path to generating positive free cash flow — long a sore spot for Pachter. Free cash flow typically represents the cash a company generates after accounting for fiscal outflows to support operations and maintain capital assets. Pachter is guiding $2 billion free cash flow in fiscal 2020.

But the flush FCF could be quickly erased after Netflix announced production/distribution of more than 70 original movies in 2021 — enough content to release at least one new original movie every week.

“This is an ambitious and costly goal, particularly as the service is touting its ‘A’-List-driven content,” Pachter wrote. As a result, the analyst expects Netflix to reach break-even by fiscal year 2022 as content consumption normalizes, subscribers grow and content spend again ramps higher.

Netflix reports Q4 results at market close on Jan. 19.

 

FuboTV Teases Strong Year-End Revenue, Sub Growth

FuboTV, the upstart publicly-traded online sports-themed streaming service, hasn’t announced when it would report fourth-quarter fiscal results. But that didn’t stop the New York-based service from disclosing upbeat year-end revenue and subscriber growth numbers.

The platform said it expects Q4 total revenue to be between $94 million  and $98 million, a 77% to 84% increase from the previous-year period. Prior guidance was $80 million to $85 million.

Paid subscribers at the year’s end are expected to exceed 545,000, an increase of more than 72% year-over-year. Prior guidance was 500,000 to 510,000 subscribers.

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“FuboTV’s strong preliminary fourth quarter 2020 results exceeded what was already expected to be a record year for the company, and demonstrate continued consumer excitement for the company’s live TV streaming offering,” co-founder/CEO David Gandler said in a statement. “In 2021, we will continue to be laser focused on executing our growth strategies, which include continuing to grow advertising revenues, working to implement sports wagering into our product and further establishing FuboTV as a leader in sports and live streaming.”

Gandler made no mention on the company’s projected profit/loss. In Q3, FuboTV reported a net loss of $274 million on revenue of $61 million. The company launched an IPO in October that saw shares skyrocket 400% following investor excitement over a live-sports themed online streaming service. Shares have been falling ever since, down more than 60%.

All Eyes on Netflix Satellite As It Orbits Fiscal Sun

Netflix Oct. 20 will release fiscal third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) results after the market closes. While a traditional flag bearer among media/tech companies during financials, this 90-day period brings added scrutiny. Netflix has been on a tear. Its stock has catapulted 75% since mid-March when the pandemic started — reaching a near all-time high Oct. 16.

But can the SVOD pioneer sustain its skyrocketing subscriber growth during the pandemic, and, secondarily, can it overcome the media/legal fallout from criminal charges alleging the service streamed “lewd material of children” in the French-language movie Cuties?

To be sure, Netflix has tempered its own fiscal expectations, projecting 2.5 million total sub additions worldwide. That’s less than the market consensus of 3.26 million subs. Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter said he believes the SVOD giant added just 250,000 domestic subs and 2.3 million internationally in the quarter. Netflix added a record 25.9 million subs in the first six months of the year — more than it did for the entire 2019.

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Analysts expect operating income of $1.29 billion, while Netflix is projecting $1.24 billion. Over the past 2 years, Netflix has topped earnings-per-share estimates 75% of the time, while trumping revenue projections 75% of the time.

While industry scuttlebutt suggests Netflix lost millions of subs in the quarter due to the controversy over Cuties — a fictional movie about an 11-year-old Senegalese girl coming of age in 21st century Paris against the backdrop of a religious mother and peer pressure from a young female dance troupe — Pachter thinks increased content demands from housebound subs drove churn higher.Follow us HERE on Twitter!The analyst contends that with the increased numbers of consumers still largely confined to home entertainment due to COVID-19, the lack of new original content on Netflix will increase service dissatisfaction.“The extraordinary level of consumption of Netflix content multiplied by its large subscriber base suggests to us that some meaningful percentage of subscribers will ‘finish’ Netflix before a large quantity of new content can be produced,” Pachter wrote in a note.The analyst said Netflix is facing a potential loss of 2 million subs per quarter going forward without a significant increase in original content. Indeed, recent data from Nielsen found that among Netflix’s most-popular shows, 50% were network reruns.“The law of large numbers suggests to us that if the rate of subscriber churn grows by ‘only’ 1%, Netflix could face an uptick loss of subscribers per quarter beginning later this year or early next year,” Pachter wrote. “We suspect that this phenomenon has already begun and led to the company’s lackluster guidance for Q3 net additions.”

AT&T: 890,000 Pay-TV/OTT Subs Lost in Q1; Drops Fiscal Guidance

AT&T had a problem with pay-TV subscriber retention before the pandemic. First-quarter fiscal results (ended March 31) suggest COVID-19 hasn’t spared the telecom, with management saying the virus cost upwards of 5 cents-per-share in pre-tax earnings, or about $360 million.

AT&T said it lost 897,000 pay-TV subscribers in the quarter, which include DirecTV and U-verse. It also lost 138,000 over-the-top video subs, which includes recently launched AT&T TV. The company ended the quarter with just 788,000 streaming video subs compared to 1.5 million a year ago. Pay-TV subs totaled 18.5 million compared with 23.4 million last year — a loss of 4.9 million subs over the past 12 months.

“It’s impossible to state the impact COVID-19 is having on all of us,” CEO Randall Stephenson said on the fiscal call. AT&T contends 60% of revenue and 70% of pre-tax earnings come from the company’s core communication business, including enterprise network, broadband and wireless.

“These businesses have proven to be resilient and they help provide a recurring stream of revenue and solid cash flows even in times of economic stress,” COO John Stankey said.

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“Without [COVID-19], the quarter was about what we expected — strong wireless numbers that covered the HBO Max investment, and produced stable [pre-tax] earnings and margins,” Stephenson said in a statement.

The executive said AT&T maintains a strong cash position and balance sheet, with core businesses continuing to generate free cash flow — even in today’s environment.

“In light of the pandemic’s economic impact, we’ve already adjusted our capital allocation plans and suspended all share retirements,” Stephenson said. “As a result, we’re able to continue investing in critical growth areas like 5G, broadband and HBO Max, while maintaining our dividend commitment and paying down debt.”

Regardless, CFO John Stephens said AT&T expects increased cord cutting among pay-TV subscribers, in addition to lower revenue from hospitality businesses such as hotels, bars and restaurants.

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Netflix Hits Q1 Subscriber Growth Home Run; Management Downplays Significance

As expected, Netflix benefited spectacularly from global shelter-in-place mandates, adding 15.8 million subscribers worldwide in the first quarter (ended March 31), to end the period with nearly 183 million subs. Netflix added 2.3 million subs in North America, up from 1.88 million a year ago.

The subscription streaming video pioneer had projected subscriber growth of 7 million and a global sub base of 174 million.

In the shareholder letter, Netflix was quick to downplay the subscriber surge, attributing it largely to global fears about the coronavirus spread. Founder/CEO Reed Hastings and CFO Spencer Neumann instead focused on Netflix’s relief efforts taken to help staff and production personnel around the world impacted by job losses and shuttered facilities.

“Like other home entertainment services, we’re seeing temporarily higher viewing and increased membership growth,” Hastings and Neumann wrote. “In our case, this is offset by a sharply stronger U.S. dollar, depressing our international revenue, resulting in revenue-as-forecast.” ​

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The executives said they expect viewing to decline and membership growth to decelerate as home confinement ends, “which we hope is soon.”

“By helping people connect with stories they love, we are able to provide comfort and escape as well as a sense of community during this pandemic,” they wrote. “So our focus has been on maintaining the quality of our service while our employees around the world adapt to working from home.”

Lastly, the executives expressed a “thank you on behalf of all our employees” to the “heroic” doctors, nurses and first responders fighting pandemic on frontlines around the world, including grocery, restaurant and other essential workers “who take risks to make sure our families are fed and taken care of.”

“We are truly inspired and humbled by you,” Hastings and Neumann wrote.

Hastings’ focus on relief efforts underscores his pre-Netflix volunteer commitments with the Peace Corps and as a math teacher in Swaziland, among other goodwill endeavors.

As previously reported, Netflix in March created a ​$100 million fund​ to help with hardship in the industry, including paying production crews for seven weeks while idled, with the goal of providing a bridge until government safety nets kick in.

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The streamer is also donating $30 million to third parties and non-profits, providing emergency relief to out-of-work crew and cast across the broader TV and film industry in countries where it has a large production base. This includes donations of $1 million each to the ​SAG-AFTRA Foundation COVID-19 Disaster Fund​, the Motion Picture and Television Fund​ and the ​Actors Fund Emergency Assistance​ in the U.S., and $1 million between the ​AFC​ and ​Foundation des Artistes​ in Canada.

“These are all well established hardship funds,” Hastings and Neumann wrote.

Other funds Netflix contributed to include £1 million to the ​British Film Institute, €1 million to the ​Italian Film Commission, €1 million to ​Audiens​ in France, R$5 million to the ​Brazilian Institute of Audiovisual Content​, $1 million to the ​Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences, ​€​1 million to Spain’s ​Ministry of Culture and Sport, Accion Cultural and the Film Academy; and ​€​1 million to the Netherlands Film Fund​.

“In total, we have committed to spend $150 million supporting the industry through this crisis,” Hastings and Neumann wrote.

Meanwhile, Netflix expects to add another 7.5 million subs in the current quarter (ending June 30), to finish the half-year mark with more than 190 million subs — up more than 25% year-over-year.

“Given the uncertainty on home confinement timing, this is mostly guesswork,” read the letter. “The actual Q2 numbers could end up well below or well above that, depending on many factors, including when people can go back to their social lives in various countries and how much people take a break from television after the lockdown.”

Netflix said the ongoing shutdown has thus far had a modest impact on new releases involving language dubbing. While admitting to be in the dark about the future as anyone, Netflix said it is spending less cash this year as some content projects are pushed out.

“Our content competitors and suppliers will be impacted about as much as we are, in terms of new titles,” read the letter. “Since we have a large library with thousands of titles for viewing and very strong recommendations, our member satisfaction may be less impacted than our peers’ by a shortage of new content, but it will take time to tell.”

Finally, Netflix generated $64 million in Q1 from its legacy by-mail DVD and Blu-ray Disc rental business — down from $80.6 million in the previous-year period. It did not disclose how many packaged media subscribers it has.

GameStop to Close 200 Underperforming Stores, With More to Follow

Following a nightmarish fiscal quarter, GameStop said it plans to shutter upwards of 200 underperforming stores nationwide, with more closures to follow.

CFO James Bell disclosed the move during the retailer’s Sept. 10 fiscal call that followed a second quarter (ended Aug. 3) that saw the company post a net loss of more than $400 million — or $32 million when excluding impairment charges.

Regardless, revenue for the world’s largest video game retailer fell more than 14% to $1.28 billion from more than $1.5 billion during the previous-year period.

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“While these [store] closures were more opportunistic, we are applying a more definitive, analytic approach, including profit levels and sales transferability, that we expect will yield a much larger tranche of closures over the coming 12 to 24 months,” Bell said.

At its peak, GameStop operated 9,000 stores worldwide. It now operates more than 5,700 across 14 countries.

GameStop continues to be undermined by changing consumer habits, which include moves toward subscription-based online gaming instead of disc-based consoles.

Major manufacturers Sony and Microsoft have plans to role out new consoles in 2020 that still include disc drives.

TiVo Narrows Q2 Fiscal Loss

DVR pioneer TiVo is in the process of transitioning its hardware and intellectual property (i.e. patents) into separate operating businesses.

In the meantime, the current combined company continues to right its fiscal ship — narrowing the second-quarter (ended June 30) net loss nearly 54% to $9.54 million from a net loss of $20.5 million during the previous-year period.

Total revenue increased nearly 2% to $176.1 million from $172.8 million last year. Through the first six months of the fiscal year, TiVo revenue is down about 8% at $334.4 million from $362.6 million.

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The bulk of revenue comes from TiVo’s portfolio of IP patents enabling third-party pay-TV operators to offer subscribers on-demand content, video recording, content recommendation and related viewership data.

Indeed, TiVo said it has expanded its third-party advertising functionality to include promotions surrounding VOD movie transactions.

 

The company said promo campaigns deliver strong performance results, including an 81% increase in digital transactions for a Hollywood studio using the software over three weekends to promote a new movie title.

Licensing, services and software revenue increased 3% to $174.4 million, while hardware sales fell about 50% to $1.67 million.

CEO Dave Shull said TiVo remains on track to separate the businesses.

“Based on my experience with strategic transactions and operational transformations, we are making great progress on the separation of TiVo’s Product and IP Licensing businesses,” Shull said in a statement. “We remain on track to complete the separation in the first half of 2020.”

GameStop Calls Off Company Sale, Stock Plummets

Shares of GameStop were down more than 23% in early trading Jan. 29 after the company announced it was canceling efforts to sell the world’s largest video game retailer.

The Grapevine, Texas company, which operates more than 5,800 retail locations in 14 countries, said is continuing the search process to appoint a permanent CEO and is working with an executive search firm.

In June 2018, GameStop’s board began discussions with third parties regarding a potential sale of the company. The board terminated sale efforts due to the lack of available financing on terms that would be commercially acceptable to a prospective acquirer.

GameStop earlier this year sold its Spring Mobile business generating about $735 million in cash. It plans to use the funds pay down outstanding debt, fund share repurchases, and reinvest in core video game and collectibles businesses.

As of Nov. 3, 2018, GameStop had $820 million of outstanding debt, $350 million of which carries a 5.50% interest rate and is due on Oct. 1, 2019. The elimination of that debt will represent annualized savings of roughly 14 cents per share, according to Wedbush Securities digital media analyst Michael Pachter.

“GameStop should be a primary beneficiary from the console refresh in 2020 or 2021, and it remains the dominant force in the video game industry’s pre-owned segment,” Pachter wrote in a Jan. 29 note.

Earlier this month, GameStop reported a 5% decline in global 2018 winter holiday revenue to $2.63 billion, compared to the nine-week holiday period ended Dec. 30, 2017.

 

Netflix Posts Record Q4 Subscriber Growth

Netflix Jan. 17 reported it added 7.3 million net new paid subscribers internationally in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) — which was above company projections of 6.1 million. In the United States, Netflix added 1.53 million paid subs, compared to projections of 1.5 million.

Netflix no longer combines new subs on trial basis with paid additions. As a result, Netflix said it had 2.07 million new trial subs in the U.S., in addition to 7.13 million internationally.

The service ended the period with 139 million paid subscribers, up 9 million paid members from the start of the quarter and 29 million from Jan. 1, 2018. Netflix added 22 million subs in 2017.

The SVOD pioneer grew quarterly revenue 35% to $16 billion, nearly doubling operating income to $1.6 billion.

Netflix said that through its first four weeks, original movie Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, was streamed by more than 80 million household worldwide.

The service said its original feature films continue to generate audiences in the home and in theaters. Five weeks after its debut, Roma from director Alfonso Cuaron is still playing on 900 screens worldwide — including some 70mm format projections.

Netflix said it service commands about 10% of all TV screen time in the U.S., and about half as much on mobile devices.

“There are thousands of competitors in this highly fragmented market vying to entertain consumers,” wrote CEO Reed Hastings and CFO Spencer Neumann in the investor letter. “Our growth is based on how good our experience is to subscribers … not on Disney+, Amazon Prime Video or others.”

Finally, Netflix ended the period with 2.7 million disc renters — down from 3.3 million during the previous-year period. The legacy segment generated $51.4 million operating profit on revenue of $85.1 million. That compared to operating profit of $62.6 million and revenue $105.1 million last year