Shares of AMC Networks (AMCX 1.80%) were sliding last month as the company gave up gains following a solid earnings report in late February. Though there was little news out on the company in March, what seemed to drive the stock lower wasn't what the company did but what it didn't do, as the cable world moved closer to consolidation.
According to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, AMC Networks stock lost 14% in the month. As you can see from the chart below, the stock fell gradually over the course of March.
AMC shares got a bump after the company reported a strong fourth-quarter earnings report on Feb. 28 with revenue up 6.3%, to $773 million. Adjusted earnings per share rose 15%, to $1.92.
However, the stock began March by giving up those gains and continued to slide from there as investors seemed to worry about industry consolidation, leaving AMC Networks as a small player with no key partner. One of the stock's worst days in the month came on March 13 as it fell 5% along with Viacom and Discovery on news that AT&T's DirecTV would be leaving out some of the company's networks in its new "Plus" package, a sign that the Pay-TV bundle of the future could downplay smaller content companies.
AMC slipped again as the merger between Disney and 21st Century Fox became official on March 20, giving the entertainment giant even more firepower as it plans to launch its Disney+ streaming service later this year. It also now has majority control of Hulu.
On March 26, AMC Networks gained 2% on news that Viacom was closer to merging with CBS, perhaps pushing the stock higher as investors hoped AMC would find a buyer.
Just in the first days of April, Discovery has announced that it would launch its own streaming service, yet another sign that the writing is on the wall for traditional cable networks. At a market cap of just around $3 billion, AMC, which also owns IFC, Sundance, WeTV, and BBC America, is one of the smallest companies but has a reputation for cranking out quality content. Its show, The Walking Dead, has been one of the most popular cable shows in recent years and on Netflix.
As the recent earnings report indicates, AMC's financial performance is solid for now and the stock is cheap at a price-to-earnings ratio around 7, but fear of ongoing disruption in the cable industry looks likely to continue plaguing the stock.