Friday, February 13, 2009

Charter files for bankruptcy

What should have happened in 2001 has happened in 2009. Idearc, RHD, Univision several tv stations, radio companies and newspapers are in trouble. CBS should cut its dividend to 0 soon. 

The new Charter equity (whenever it is issued) will be interesting. Under the new capital structure, it might just become free cash flow breakeven ($13 bn debt = $1.3 bn interest expense + $1.3 bn capex = $2.6bn drain, and EBITDA should be $2.4-$2.5 bn in 2009). It will remain highly levered at 5x debt/EBITDA, so there might be an interesting play here. 

If there is one thing I am bullish on during the recession, it is broadband. It is probably the last thing that an unemployed person is going to cut - he/she needs to browse for jobs. Innovation on the Internet continues, and as new bandwidth hogging applications come up, consumers will take higher broadband speeds. WSJ had an article the other day as to how unemployed people are spending more time on the Internet to kill time - it is the new entertainment medium of choice, like movie theatres in 1930s. Broadband growth rates will be slower than before, both because of economy and a maturing broadband market, but I don't think we will see declining broadband connections anytime soon. 

DVD sales are declining while movie theatres attendance remains resilient - are movie theatres getting negotiating leverage back against the studios? - will need to check this one out.

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