Few investors can hold a candle to renowned Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A 0.04%) (BRK.B 0.31%) CEO Warren Buffett. The so-called Oracle of Omaha has helmed the company for more than five decades, amassing a track record that's hard to rival. Since he assumed control of Berkshire Hathaway in 1965, its stock has generated gains of more than 20% annually and, in total, has soared an eye-popping 3,641,613%.
In light of the macroeconomic headwinds that have persisted over the past year, an increasing number of investors are poring over Buffett's laundry list of holdings, looking for diamonds in the rough. One stock that looks particularly intriguing right now is Paramount Global (PARA -1.46%). The bear market has ravaged the stock, which is currently down 89% from its high. However, the company has a number of potential catalysts that could help turn the tide.
Can Paramount Global overcome the economic storm that has punished the stock in 2022? Let's take a step back to see what a broader view reveals.
Streaming video -- and so much more
Streaming video has taken center stage since the onset of the pandemic, and while that's certainly understandable, the view is somewhat myopic. Sure, Paramount Global is home to fast-growing streaming service Paramount+ (more on that shortly), but the media company has a diversified portfolio of entertainment staples.
CBS is the No. 1 television broadcast network, boasting 7 of the top 10 shows -- and more top-30 shows than all other networks combined. Paramount also owns a number of high-profile, industry-leading cable networks including Nickelodeon and BET, which are both No. 1 in their respective demographics. Then there's Pluto, the No. 1 free, ad-supported streaming TV service in the U.S. Finally, there's major motion picture studio Paramount Pictures, which has produced six No. 1 hits so far this year.
Speaking of hit movies, Paramount Pictures produced Top Gun: Maverick, the top box office draw of the year (as of this writing). It generated nearly $1.5 billion in global ticket sales, making it the 11th-highest-grossing movie worldwide in history and No. 5 domestically. Other box office hits this year include Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ($402.6 million), Smile ($216.1 million), and The Lost City ($190.8 million), all of which were among the top 25 movies of 2022.
So while streaming is certainly one of Paramount Global's biggest growth opportunities, its portfolio extends far beyond that single offering.
The future will be streamed
Because of a recent rebranding, investors might think Paramount+ is a relative newcomer to the streaming arena, but nothing could be further from the truth. The streamer was previously dubbed CBS All Access before adopting its new moniker last year.
Investors appear to be dismissing the worldwide opportunity ahead as Paramount Global expands into new international markets. Just this month, the company launched its streaming service in France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, bringing its total market count to 45 countries. Furthermore, with the backing of Paramount Pictures, Paramount+ can supply viewers with a steady stream of Hollywood hits.
Paramount+ has another key advantage: The streaming service has access to a host of top-notch sports content, which is no doubt a key consideration for some subscribers. The service has access to every local NFL game broadcast on CBS, part of an 11-year deal signed in 2021. Over the past year, that amounted to 38 regular-season games and three playoff games.
The platform also hosts European soccer, PGA golf, NCAA basketball, and more.
Short-term headwinds, long-term opportunity
Even in the face of economic headwinds, Paramount Global continues to grow, though at a more moderate pace than before. Revenue climbed 5% year over year in the third quarter. The results were led by its direct-to-consumer (DTC) business, as revenue climbed 38%, led by Paramount+, which soared 95%. Helping fuel the results were the addition of 4.7 million DTC subscribers, bringing the total to 67 million. On the other hand, revenue from its broadcast television segment slipped 5%, dragged down by lower advertising revenue.
At an investor conference early this month, CEO Bob Bakish revealed that a pullback in ad spending would temporarily hamstring Paramount's performance and that its fourth-quarter results would come in below the company's previously issued guidance. "We do now see the fourth quarter coming in a bit below the third quarter," Bakish said. The situation has affected both the company's broadcast television business and its free, ad-supported streaming service, Pluto TV.
It's important to remember that it isn't just Paramount experiencing declining ad revenue, though, and the situation will reverse course once the economy finds its footing. As a result, there's plenty of negativity baked into the stock price right now, which is down significantly from last year's lockdown-fueled highs.
This dark cloud has a silver lining, however: Paramount's valuation is ridiculously low. The stock is trading for less than 1 times sales, when most experts agree that a reasonable price-to-sales ratio is between 1 and 2. This could help explain why Buffett has increased Berkshire Hathaway's ownership in Paramount Global in each of the past three quarters. The stake now amounts to 91 million shares worth more than $1.5 billion.