Some investments are more complicated than others. For instance, Discovery Communications
But while complicated companies are often difficult to value, Discovery's performance proves that being obscure doesn't necessarily preclude you from being successful. Since November, shares have risen by nearly 70%.
Given the turbulent economic climate, Discovery fared very well last quarter. Revenue was slightly up to $817 million, but earnings per share ballooned to $0.28, more than twice that posted in the year-ago period. Much of the gain came from a decline in tax expense and an increase in net non-operating income, but the company's core business also posted decent results.
As I see it, Discovery's cable programming and its innovations in diversified media are the real winners here. Even as its cable networks earn the ratings that attract solid ad revenues, the company is constantly coming up with new ideas as well. It recently announced it will enter a 50/50 joint venture with Hasbro
And with Internet ventures like HowStuffWorks.com, which is full of useful information on everything from valuing used cars to finding recipes for Cinco de Mayo, Discovery has demonstrated that it is very good at exploiting as many available profit opportunities as possible.
Keep ahead of the competition
That kind of forward thinking helps keep Discovery competitive, and in media, there's never any shortage of competition. A&E Television Networks, which includes the History Channel along with other competing offerings, may be Discovery's toughest competitor, pound for pound. A joint venture of The Hearst Corporation, Walt Disney's
Consumers' changing tastes, and shifting trends across different demographics, further convolute the process of assigning a fair value to a stock like Discovery's. Absent any material alterations to its fundamental business strategy, though, I believe that it can enjoy a long and successful future.