Step Away From This Dividend Stock

I'd like to think of myself as a long-term, buy-and-hold investor. And most of the time I am.

I tend to tune out the talking heads on CNBC, stay away from minute-by-minute checking of my stocks, and take long walks on the beach. Yet there is one group of people whose opinion counts above all else in my investing world:

My middle-school-aged cousins.

Fighting for young eyes on cable
I'll get back to my cousins a bit later; for now, I'd like to consider the larger issue of marketing toward children. Don't let Bugs Bunny or My Little Pony deceive you -- this is a highly competitive business. In 2006, kids through age 14 funneled some $160 billion away from their parents' pockets.

The landscape is diverse and wide-ranging. On one end of the spectrum, live-action shows like wrestling have attracted a large following. One recent study showed that 63% of high school boys watch wrestling regularly. To be sure, World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE: WWE  ) has a nice corner on this market (and sports a 4.6% dividend yield); but Sinclair Broadcast Group's (Nasdaq: SBGI  ) recent purchase of the Ring of Honor wrestling franchise should add some competition into the mix.

On the other end of the spectrum, stations like Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) Cartoon Network, Viacom's (NYSE: VIA  ) Nickelodeon and -- of course -- Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) flagship station provide lighter fare for our youth.

A new player enters the fold
Encouraged by the success of Marvel Entertainment, and the company's ability to monetize its intellectual property, toymaker Hasbro (Nasdaq: HAS  ) recently decided to enter the cable television space. In a joint venture with Discovery Communications, they launched The Hub in 2010 -- a channel which features many of Hasbro's most popular brands, like G.I. Joe, Yahtzee, and Transformers.

The idea is that with more kids watching these shows, they'll want to buy the corresponding games with greater frequency, giving Hasbro an edge over rival Mattel (NYSE: MAT  ) . The Hub itself has shown early promise: Compared to the same time last year, 50% more kids (age 6 to 11) were tuning in to the station. So what did I do with the bulk of my own shares upon hearing this news?

I sold most of them.

Young sages
Back to my cousins. They have been a great proxy for investing success in the past. In fact, I bought in to Hasbro back in 2009 when it was trading for around $26 per share, with a P/E of 12.5 and a nice dividend yield of 3%. My cousins loved the latest Transformers movie and were convincing my aunt to buy the toys.

Today, however, the story is different. Having run up more than 75%, and with a much higher P/E of 18.6, my enthusiasm has waned. This past weekend, while talking with my cousins, they said they don't even know what The Hub is, and given the chance to watch the channel, they weren't terribly impressed.

Today's price reflects optimism in the company's ability to extract more revenue because of The Hub, and I'm not sure that's a realistic proposition. Furthermore, my excitement with The Hub's strong showing so far was tempered when looking at the numbers on an absolute basis.

Channel

Viewership among 6-to-11-year-olds

The Hub 18,000
Cartoon Network 336,000
Disney 593,000

Source: Kidscreen. Numbers for the week of April 18-24. 

These numbers are a tough comparison because of how very new The Hub actually is. Though growing, The Hub has only 3% of the viewership that Disney does. While some may think that means there's a lot of room for growth, I'm not buying it. There's not enough to differentiate their offerings. And while absolute numbers weren't available for Nickelodeon, it currently has five of the top 10 shows for this age group as well.

My Foolish takeaway
I initially purchased Hasbro for two reasons. First, it offered a nice dividend. Second, the potential for Marvel-esque growth was present. While the dividend is still there, I prefer to find dividend stocks that have a high potential of price appreciation as well. However, it's important to note that Hasbro is definitely a Fool favorite and has been recommended by several of our newsletters -- so this article only represents my personal opinion.

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Fool contributor Brian Stoffel still owns some shares of Hasbro, just in case his cousins are wrong. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Hasbro and Walt Disney. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended shorting Hasbro.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (16)

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  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2011, at 6:24 PM, AcheronRecords wrote:

    I believe the hub has a long uphill battle in front of it, but I am glad to see Hasbro utilizing their IP for purposes other than creating toys. I think the true growth of this company depends on their initiatives with bringing their toys to life in movies, tv shows, and video games.

    Look at how Disney utilizes their characters and you can begin to see the potential that Hasbro has to continue to grow beyond toys.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2011, at 6:32 PM, esxokm wrote:

    Excellent article. Gave me a lot to digest.

    A couple of brief comments:

    I think with more of a pullback, Hasbro will be a buy again. You may be correct that it is currently overvalued.

    In terms of The Hub, I will disagree and say that I do believe it has room for growth. Over time, it will change its programming strategies and it will be a totally different station from what we know today. Some of the library shows that are on now -- The Wonder Years, Happy Days, etc. -- won't be around. Think of what the Sci-Fi Channel was before it became SyFy.

    Also, The Hub has proven that it knows quality: R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour is a great anthology series that is fun for both adults and tweens alike. Does Hasbro have a merchandise deal with this show? I don't know, but I think The Hub and Hasbro will experiment with the channel to develop new properties that will eventually benefit the toy company. Think of The Hub as a potential R&D lab in much the same way as Marvel publishing is considered a similar entity for that business.

    One last thing: Don't tune out anyone on CNBC! I know what you mean, but I believe the idea of not paying attention to short-term information and trends is an overrated concept.

  • Report this Comment On June 03, 2011, at 10:59 AM, barrycahn wrote:

    Just curious how the authors on Motley Fool are different from "Talking Heads" on CNBC.

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