(Top stock picks) Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA) is now a media conglomerate. After spinning out of News Corp, it's been able to focus on becoming a more profitable TV and film content creator.
It has a diversified portfolio, with various channels, including Fox News, FSN, Fox Sports 1, FX, FXX, Speed, and National Geographic. However, that's not the true growth story. Fox is looking to position itself as the top media giant, going up against Disney (NYSE: DIS) and Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) , by shifting more of its business model to cable networking.
Media giants with differing models for growth
Disney's main revenue driver remains its media networks, which includes the likes of ESPN, Disney Channel, and A&E. Its second key revenue driver is parks and resorts.
And although Comcast generates revenue from theme parks and films, its major revenue driver is cable communications, a segment that includes offering video, Internet, and voice services. Now it's looking to increase its exposure to this area of the market. Just under two months ago, Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable, in a deal that's valued at over $40 billion. It would make Comcast the undisputed leader when it comes to TV, Internet, and phone subscribers, covering over 30% of Americans.The merger will face antitrust hurdles and at the very least will require concessions by Comcast, such as divesting certain subscribers to competitors.
Meanwhile, Fox gets the majority of its revenues from cable networks and film production. The company plans to shift more of its reliance for revenue generation to cable production going forward, and away from the more competitive film industry.
Fox also has a 33% stake in Hulu, along with co-owners Disney and Comcast. Hulu is one of the key players in the online streaming space, one that DirecTV offered to buy for $1 billion just under a year ago. There could be a solid opportunity for Fox to monetize this asset in the future. Just look at the success of Netflix, shares of which are up over 100% in the past year.
Look for less reliance on film from Fox going forward
Disney has been a big winner in the entertainment space over the past half-decade. After buying Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, Disney has had some big successes by bringing some of the big comic-book hits to life on the big screen. Last weekend, its Captain America: The Winter Soldier had the best opening weekend of any movie this year. Its animated film,Frozen, was also also a huge success, becoming the top-grossing animated film of all time.
Meanwhile, Avatar was a big hit for Fox, but we still have another two years before Avatar 2hits theaters. Fox also plans to bring Charlie Brown to the big screen. The initial plans are for the Peanuts movie to be launched in late 2015.
However, it's rising cable affiliate fees that Fox will look to capitalize on going forward. Last year, affiliate revenues made up 28% of revenues, up from the 22% in 2011. With affiliate fees expected to continue rising, Fox is looking to make its cable network programming segment more of a contributor to revenues. That includes gaining a larger presence in the sports market. To that end, it has launched a new network, Fox Sports 1.
The sports entertainment business has proved to be a lucrative one. Disney has had a lot of success with its ESPN franchise, and now Fox wants a piece of the pie. Fox already has a number of strong regional sports networks, including FSN. Its Fox Sports 1 network is expected to help give the company a larger presence in the world market. It already has the rights to various events related to soccer, UFC ultimate fighting, and Major League Baseball.
Fox is a very compelling investment. Its dividend yield isn't quite as high as its major peers, but there's room for growth there. The dividend yield is only 0.7%, but the payout is only at 10% of earnings. The key growth drivers include rising affiliate fees and a greater presence in the sports market. Fox's P/E ratio is also only at 14.5, which is a steep discount to other major media companies, as Disney and Comcast trade at P/E ratios of 22 and 19.6, respectively. For investors looking to gain some exposure to the media market, Fox looks to be worth a look.