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1-Up on Wall Street: Starz Avoids Rough Seas, Aims to Be the Next AMC Networks

By Tim Beyers – Feb 2, 2014 at 4:30PM

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Three Fools take to the air to consider the network’s mixed history and future potential.

Black Sails left port with a tailwind in premiering last month. Does that portend good things for the show's network parent, Starz (STRZA)? Can the company become a cable powerhouse in the style of HBO or AMC Networks (AMCX -1.84%)?

Host Ellen Bowman puts these questions to Fool analysts Nathan Alderman and Tim Beyers in this week's episode of 1-Up On Wall Street, The Motley Fool's Web show in which we talk about the big-money names behind your favorite movies, toys, video games, comics, and more.

Tim says Starz appears to have selected well in backing Black Sails for two seasons right off the bat. At least 3.5 million tuned in across platforms during the show's opening weekend, a debut record for a Starz original.

Yet investors needn't rush in, Tim says. Starz has a checkered history when it comes to originals -- both Boss and Magic City failed to keep viewers engaged -- and we don't yet have an air date for Outlander, producer Ron Moore's much-anticipated adaptation of author Diana Gabaldon's books.

Nathan also isn't sure about Starz, though he prefers Starz's financials -- and rightly so. According to S&P Capital IQ, Starz has generated $1.19 billion in cash flow over the trailing 12 months, after accounting for working capital changes. AMC produced $626 million on the same basis over the same period. The message? If AMC can succeed while saddled with billions in debt, so can Starz.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Are you watching Black Sails? Will you be watching Outlander? Please leave a comment to let us know what you think and then check back here often for more 1-Up On Wall Street segments.


Neither Ellen Bowman nor Nathan Alderman owned shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Tim Beyers owned shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends AMC Networks and Netflix and owns shares of Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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