Mar 06, 2020
“We believe in maximizing the value of our content asset,” said Bakish during the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.
“I think [the market] is missing the extraordinary value of this company,” said ViacomCBS CEO and President Bob Bakish near the start of a question and answer session at Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Wednesday.
He followed up with several proof points. For one, he highlighted ViacomCBS’ core strength in content, both as a producer and as the owner of a content library that it’s committed to monetizing. ViacomCBS is also “the leader on linear television in every single demographic” in the U.S. said Bakish, noting the company’s advertising position. Its streaming and digital video footprint spans sports, live, and local across all consumer price points—including free as its Pluto TV platform is a market leader with more than 22 million monthly active users. He also said the company is undervalued, noting 2020 OIBDA and free cash flow guidance.
“I hope investors understand how focused we are on free cash flow generation at ViacomCBS,” said Bakish, projecting that the company will generate between $1.8 and $2 billion in adjusted free cash flow—a performance metric many analysts focus on—this year.
To that end, in a headline-making move, Bakish announced that ViacomCBS is in the early stages of exploring the sale of Simon & Schuster that it will look to complete once the market stabilizes. “It’s not just about operating performance. There are significant non-core assets in this company that we’re committed to unlocking to add to the shareholder value equation,” said Bakish. He clarified that Simon & Schuster “is not a core asset” of the combined company since “it doesn’t have significant connectivity to our broader business.” The publishing division added $814 million in revenue—or 3% of consolidated revenues—to ViacomCBS in fiscal 2019.
"I hope investors understand how focused we are on free cash flow generation at ViacomCBS"
"We’re convinced that an O&O and third-party strategy is absolutely right for ViacomCBS. We believe in maximizing the value of our content asset."