There seem to be two kinds of media companies around these days. There's the unprofitable darling, exemplified by Sirius Satellite Radio
Clear Channel Communications
Seeing slow adoption of its "less is more" initiative, Clear Channel's radio broadcasting revenues dropped 7%. The second biggest piece of the sales pie, outdoor advertising, saw 11% growth. Unfortunately, much of that was owed to foreign exchange gains. The real lead weight was live entertainment, which dropped 17%.
But looks can be deceiving. A simultaneous release this morning suggested that the live-entertainment millstone will be spun off complete in an IPO. Frankly, this makes excellent sense to me. I've just never believed that billboard and radio ads had all that much synergy with the moody concert biz. The arguments for the proposed spinoff of the outdoor division, with Clear Channel retaining a 90% stake, are a bit less compelling, but it's tough to find any fault with the 50% dividend hike plus the special payout.
The fact is that Clear Channel is a steady cash generator like few other businesses. With an enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio around 17, and an EV/EBITDA ratio of below 10, the firm is cheaper than Mr. Market as a whole, and it sells its wares to markets that are relatively stable, even if they're stagnating for now.
But the biggest value at Clear Channel may just be a management that's focused on delivering value to the shareholders. In addition to the initiatives mentioned above, the firm continues to buy back a large portion of its shares at attractive prices. With the stubs' price clunking around not far from one- and two-year lows, and at the low end of its historical valuation range, Clear Channel should be on any value investor's hot list.
For related Foolishness:
- Is stodgy old Clear Channel getting hip?
- Is radio already belly-up?
- I'm not the only Fool who sees value in Clear Channel.
- Things have looked cloudy for some time.