There's a lot going on at Viacom
The market isn't seeing it that way at the moment. This morning's resignation of CEO Tom Freston finds shares trading 5% lower. Under Sumner Redstone's watch, Freston helped assemble the impressive collection of cable and entertainment properties that transformed a small movie-theater chain into one of the country's largest media conglomerates.
Freston and CBS' Les Moonves were seen as the two likely contenders to replace Redstone until the fiery helmsman made the point moot by moving to split the company in two. Moonves got the slower-growing CBS, while Freston took the reins of the more octane-laden Viacom realm, which includes MTV, Nickelodeon, and Paramount. Ironically, CBS has gone on to appreciate this year, while Viacom's stock is trading 13% lower since the split.
This may prove to be the second costly defection for Viacom. Programming guru Mel Karmazan stepped down two years ago before ultimately heading up Sirius Satellite Radio
Another surprising move out of the Viacom camp over the holiday weekend is a report that the company is still in the bidding process for BMG Music publishing. Other bidders, such as Warner Music Group
I applaud Viacom's smaller nibbles in cyberspace. Snapping up Atom, Xfire, iFilm, and NeoPets? Brilliant. BMG Music? Shareholders may not agree with that move. As music moves towards digital distribution -- something at which Warner has excelled -- it will be an attractive industry again. I just don't believe that Viacom is in a credible position to convince its investors of that at a time when confidence is dragging the stock lower.
Change can be good, Viacom -- as long as you make some good changes.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't know if he still wants his MTV, but he knows that Viacom's shareholders wouldn't mind money for nothing. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.The Fool has a disclosure policy.