Corus Entertainment Stock: Valuation Case Outweighs Near-Term Headwinds

Corus Entertainment headquarter office building in Toronto.


Canadian media and leisure firm Corus Leisure’s (OTCPK:CJREF) latest pre-This fall update got here as a detrimental shock, as headwinds from the macro slowdown and lingering post-COVID results drove a greater-than-expected downward revision to tv advert income. Along with the near-term stress throughout promoting markets, Corus’ channels enterprise additionally faces long-term aggressive stress amid streaming gamers’ push into ad-supported tiers. This does not think about a recession situation both (more and more doubtless after this week’s Fed assembly), which might virtually actually drive one other spherical of revisions to consensus estimates for FY23/24.

In sum, the challenged fundamentals imply it is a inventory that’s low-cost for a cause. But, the valuation case is maybe too robust to disregard, with its FCF yield (as a % of the market cap) now at >40%. Plus, administration has been proactive on capital returns, implementing an energetic buyback program and a high-single-digit dividend yield (backed by a low 20-25% payout ratio). Regardless of minimal upside catalysts on the horizon, affected person, long-term-oriented buyers prepared to stay it out ought to do properly over time.

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Detrimental Replace Suggests Difficult Quarters Forward

Corus just lately disclosed a detrimental operational replace, citing a posh macro setting and lingering results of the COVID pandemic resulting in “significant year-over-year softness” in its This fall tv promoting income. In step with its prior commentary, spending within the automotive, well being & magnificence, and journey end-markets stay the important thing supply of weak point.

Whereas the character of the headwinds is hardly shocking at this level, the extent of the most recent downward revision was a detrimental shock, significantly given prior makes an attempt to reset expectations decrease. It appears the latest macro slowdown and the prospect of a recession are already having a materially harsher impression on This fall numbers than beforehand anticipated, specifically on the advert aspect of the enterprise. This is sensible, in my opinion – in periods of financial weak point, advertising and marketing budgets are usually the go-to space to curtail spending. An earlier-than-expected pullback poses a cloth draw back threat to the post-This fall steering as properly, so the near-term elementary outlook is hardly compelling.

Pondering the P&L Affect

The flow-through impact of advert revenues on the P&L, significantly in model promoting (vs. efficiency advertisements), is more likely to be important. Coming off the FY19 highs of ~$967m, TV promoting income has lagged beneath pre-COVID ranges and appears set to additional decline off the already low FY22 base. Whereas a near-term rebound in journey and promoting spending, significantly as provide chain points ease on the automotive aspect, may provide some aid, the visibility into these enhancements is restricted. Neither is it more likely to compensate for the pullback in promoting budgets.

With few levers on the income aspect, administration will doubtless have to lean on value changes, primarily on the programming aspect, to mitigate a few of the EBITDA impression. It will take time, although, and within the close to time period, there may be unlikely to be sufficient flexibility to completely defend margins. Plus, the mid to long-term menace from giant streaming gamers like Netflix (NFLX) and Disney (DIS) rolling out ad-supported tiers will must be addressed (doubtless through step-ups in content material funding and digital choices), and that might additional weigh on the P&L.

By-Cycle Money Era and Capital Return Potential Provide Silver Linings

Whereas the near-term elementary outlook is as bleak because it will get, with few upside catalysts on the horizon to set off a significant restoration within the inventory value, Corus has rather a lot going for it on the valuation aspect. Its money era has usually been robust by way of the cycles, driving an improved steadiness sheet place and an FCF yield of >40% following the latest drawdown.

FCF and Net Debt Trends

Corus Leisure

The elevated capability has allowed for extra buyback exercise, with administration’s resolution to stay with an energetic repurchase program highlighting its perception within the inventory’s undervaluation. Ought to the inventory proceed to weaken heading into a possible recession, my base case is for administration to additional step up on the buyback entrance. Along with repurchases and debt pay downs through FCF, Corus additionally maintains a beautiful dividend (now yielding >9%). Because the dividend payout is within the 20%-25% vary as properly, the yield is probably going sustainable below most financial situations; even in a worst-case situation, the corporate has sufficient value levers to maintain the required FCF, in my opinion.

Shareholder Yield

Corus Leisure

Interesting Valuation Case Outweighs the Close to-Time period Headwinds

Corus’ newest steering reset could possibly be an indication of issues to come back. With the present macro challenges (inflation and rising charges), advertisers are chopping again on spending and end-consumer demand is waning. Within the close to time period, it is arduous to see a case for upward revisions right here, whereas the long-term fundamentals relaxation on administration’s capacity to navigate a quickly altering media panorama to ship its sustained YoY income development goal. I am not significantly optimistic on the latter, however neither is the market – Corus inventory at present affords a >40% FCF yield. Plus, the high-single-digit % dividend yield (at a low payout %) is enticing, even with charges on the rise. Coupled with the energetic buyback, the overall shareholder return yield is about nearly as good because it will get for Corus shareholders. At this juncture, buyers will want a excessive ache threshold to personal this title, however these prepared to stay it out ought to do properly over time.

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