Back in March, Archegos Capital notoriously sold off its oversized positions in ViacomCBS and other stocks. After the dust settled, investors were left with a rare risk-to-reward proposition in ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC) — and now, enterprising investors have a chance to reconsider an old business as it adapts surprisingly effectively to an emerging trend in digital content delivery.

A streaming star

Viacom has a legacy cable business, and it's doing fine. But look at how its modest 8% year-over-year Q2 2021 growth compares to streaming:

  • 92% year-over-year growth in global streaming revenue (accelerating from 65% in Q1 2021 and 71% in Q4 2020)
  • 82% year-over-year growth in streaming subscription revenue
  • 102% year-over-year growth in streaming advertising revenue
  • Domestic streaming per-user watch time grew 45% year over year

On top of all that, ViacomCBS added 6.5 million global streaming subscribers, thereby reaching 42 million in Q2 (fueled in part by Paramount+, which contributed more than 6 million additions to ViacomCBS's quarterly global streaming subscription base).

Four friends enjoy a TV show together on the couch.

Image source: Getty Images.

Granted, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) added 1.54 million users and reached 209 million paid memberships in Q2, while Disney (NYSE:DIS) added nearly 9 million new Disney+ subscribers, thereby totaling 116 million subscribers (including Hotstar) — meaning ViacomCBS still has some ground to cover in terms of obtaining market share.

On the other hand, Viacom's audience for streaming content (measured by subscriber count) accelerated at an impressive pace, from 36 million in Q1 2021 and nearly 30 million in Q4 2020)

These stats were released in early August, with no perceptible accompanying bump in the VIAC share price. It's baffling, really – but contrarians should be salivating, since the market is apparently asleep at the wheel when it comes to ViacomCBS.

Turning streams into dollars

ViacomCBS's GAAP revenue growth was 8% year over year — not too shabby, but perhaps nothing to write home about. The fiscal picture also darkens somewhat when we note the company's adjusted (non-GAAP) net earnings from continuing operations attributable to ViacomCBS, which narrowed by 14% year over year. This suggests that the company may have room for improvement in converting top-line performance into bottom-line results.

On the other hand, it's nice to know that ViacomCBS demonstrated 120% year-over-year growth in net earnings from continuing operations attributable to the company (from $453 million in Q2 2020 to $995 million in Q2 2021).

Furthermore, ViacomCBS's net profit margins have widened considerably, from 7.9% in Q2 2020 to 15.8% in Q2 2021, according to S&P Capital Intelligence. This net profit margin expansion certainly outpaces the more modest GAAP revenue growth during that time frame ($6.075 billion to $6.565 billion), and may be attributable to what Executive VP and CFO Naveen Chopra called "enhanced monetization" as reflected in ViacomCBS's ability to extract profitability from such offerings as Pluto TV and Paramount+.

P/S, I love you

While acknowledging that ViacomCBS has to catch up to Netflix and Disney+ in terms of streaming subscriber count, at least we can say that the Archegos debacle created a value-based opportunity in VIAC stock that its peers might not share.

A head-to-head comparison puts the stock's attractive qualities in sharp relief, with Discovery (NASDAQ:DISCA) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) thrown in for good measure:

Company

P/E ratio (trailing 12 months)

P/S ratio (trailing 12 months)

Forward annual dividend yield 

Viacom

7.58

0.94

2.42%

Netflix

60

9.88

None

Disney

303.25

5.28

None

Discovery

16.23

1.54

None

Comcast

22.37

5.28

1.69%

Source: Yahoo! Finance, author's calculations.

It just goes to show that sometimes, investors pile into the more "obvious" names in a sector — thereby stretching their valuations and making them less attractive to bona fide bargain hunters.

Stay calm, and stay the course on ViacomCBS

In the wake of an overstated share-price collapse, investors still have a rare chance to capitalize on a market's misplaced bearishness.

Between the peer-beating valuation and dividend yield, and the company's rapid acceleration in the streaming segment, there's a strong argument in favor of taking a position in VIAC stock now, even if investors seem indifferent to the opportunity that's right in front of their face.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.