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Why Rovi Corporation Rose 17% in February

By Anders Bylund – Mar 9, 2016 at 11:00AM

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The TV guide specialist may have found a way to stay relevant in an ever-changing media market. Does that make Rovi a good investment?

Source: Rovi.

What: Shares of Rovi Corporation (NASDAQ: ROVI) gained 17.1% in February 2015, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. The developer of data and information tools for the entertainment industry delivered a fantastic fourth-quarter report in the second week, and that made all the difference.

So what: In the fourth quarter, Rovi's sales increased 11% year over year thanks to renewed technology license deals with Sony (SONY 0.10%) and AT&T (T -0.93%). Back in December, when these agreements were announced, Rovi shares rose more than 50% over the next three days. The earnings report simply outlined the financial impact of the Sony and AT&T deals, and shares jumped another 18% on the news.

All told, Rovi stock has more than doubled since unveiling these important license extensions.

Now what: Rovi's TV listings patents are at the core of the agreements with Ma Bell and Sony. It is more cost-effective for these industry titans to lean on Rovi's pre-baked solutions rather than rolling their own, and the license costs are but drops in the ocean. Sony can make these payments out of a $6 billion annual pile of free cash flows, and AT&T's cash profits are even larger.

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

But for Rovi, whose annual sales barely break the half-billion mark, these are game-changing deals. The company hopes to sign more of these life-giving license deals in the coming year.

Mind you, Rovi hasn't exactly built investor wealth in the long run. These recent gains came from a deep, dark stretch of multi-year lows. Even now, Rovi shares stand 7% short of their year-ago prices. The stock could double again and still not make up for its terrible five-year losses.

The company may have found a path toward financial stability, and even some short-term growth if the pending license negotiations work out as planned. I'm still not sure that I see a long-term place for Rovi shares, though. Those crucial license agreements are risky and the next one could always fall through. At best, this is a relatively stable value play with a heaping side of additional risk -- and Rovi doesn't pay a dividend that could make this option worthwhile.

I'm staying away. It's too easy to find superior investments without even leaving Rovi's chosen market.

Anders Bylund has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not 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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