Back on Halloween, Fool colleague Anders Bylund went straight to the point: Blockbuster
No doubt, Blockbuster looks like a mess and the future looks dim. There is intense competition from new-fangled players like Netflix
Of course, there is also the specter of video-on-demand. Big-time companies such as Amazon.com
Yet, as can be seen with the stock price performance over the past few years, Wall Street has certainly been factoring in the bad news. However, in the meantime, Blockbuster's management has been taking significant measures to change things: reducing the number of stores (from 9,076 to 8,529 over the past 12 months); finding cost savings; and implementing new programs, such as online ordering.
And the company is getting some traction. For the first nine months of this year, Blockbuster generated roughly $130 million in free cash flows.
The company also recently launched its Total Access service. For a $17.99 monthly fee, you can order movies online and then return them either via mail or to a Blockbuster store, where you can make an exchange for more movies. You also get one free in-store movie per month.
Apparently, the results of the pilot program have been promising, with increased in-store revenues, less membership churn, and more online sign-ups. In other words, this could be a growth driver for Blockbuster.
No doubt, all of this is far from guaranteed. But Blockbuster's CEO is making a big statement by spending his own cash on a slug of stock. Why would he buy unless he has confidence in the company's prospects?
Interestingly enough, the stock has been zippy lately. For example, last week there was a rumor that Blockbuster was thinking of selling off its operations in Taiwan. On the news, the stock surged 15% and hit a 52-week high.
Thus, if Blockbuster can demonstrate profitability next year -- as well as growth in its online business -- there appears to be some upside left for the stock.
For more Foolishness on Blockbuster, check out:
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