Shares of ViacomCBS stock are down 11.6% at 3:30 p.m. EST Thursday.
The debate over CBS stock began in the dead of night Wednesday, when analysts at Credit Suisse cut their rating on the stock to "underperform" (i.e. sell) after close of trading. As TheFly.com reports, CS is more optimistic than most analysts about improvements in the television advertising market, and believes the rate at which subscribers cancel their paid-for television subscriptions (i.e. cable) is slowing. Nevertheless, CS argues that CBS stock has risen too far, too fast, over the last three months, and the stock is now overpriced -- and worth only $37 a share.
Taking the other side of the debate, this morning Macquarie raised its own price target on CBS stock from $37 to $46. As Macquarie sees it, while media stocks have appreciated sharply of late, this only returns the industry -- and CBS in particular -- to its average historical valuations.
Although Macquarie seems relatively more of a fan of CBS than does Credit Suisse, even Macquarie's higher price target of $46 implies about 7% downside risk in the stock over the next 12 months -- and little chance that the stock will go higher. Macquarie only rated the stock "neutral," therefore, the implication is that even Macquarie isn't particularly enthusiastic about the stock.
With ViacomCBS at more than 21 times earnings and carrying a massive debt load of $18.4 billion net of cash on hand, Macquarie's probably right to be cautious. ViacomCBS is not a cheap stock.
Value investors should avoid it.