Stock prices for kiosk company Outerwall are down more than 20% in post-market trading after it lowered its financial projections for the year noting in a release that promotion discounts in July and August “drove consumers toward more single night [DVD] rentals.” As a result, the net revenue per rental in Q3 likely will fall as much as 9 cents vs last year. The company, formerly known as Coinstar, also says that it may see 6.5M fewer rentals than it expected in Q4 “as the number of titles has shifted to either later in the fourth quarter or into 2014.” The number of shifts “is greater than normal.” The Redbox owner had high hopes for Q3: Last year the company struggled to compete with the Summer Olympics, and the number of customers is up 5% in the first half of 2013 vs the period last year. Indeed, CEO J. Scott Di Valerio says that “both rentals and revenue for Redbox increased significantly in July and August” — even though they ultimately “were not to our expectations.” He vows to cut the number of consumer promotions, reduce content and operating costs, and repurchase an additional $100M of Outerwall shares in Q4. The company dropped the top of its Q3 revenue projection, made in July, by 6.5% to $589M with earnings per share down 37.8% to a maximum of 94 cents. For the full year, revenues are now projected …
The stock is up more than 5% in after-market trading following the earnings report — plus an announcement that the company behind the Redbox kiosks plans to change its name to Outerwall. Whatever it’s called, it reported Q1 net income of $22.6M, -57.9% vs the period last year, on revenue of $574.7M, +1.1%. The revenue number is short of the $579.4 that analysts expected. But core earnings per share, factoring out one-time gains and losses, came to 93 cents — well ahead of the 86 cents the Street anticipated. The Redbox disc rental kiosk unit generated $92.7M in operating income (-15.3%) on revenue of $507.9M (+1%). The slight top-line growth was mostly due to the additional kiosks in the field. Profits took a hit as a result of “an increase in product costs related to higher DVD content purchases” — including increased buys from Warner Bros resulting from the deal they struck late last year. Coinstar says that “the physical market is stabilizing following further Blockbuster store closings and Netflix’s continued efforts to shift their disc customers to streaming.” Meanwhile, Blu-ray disc rentals “exceeded our expectations” and represented 14.2% of Redbox revenue, and 12% of total rentals. The company expects the HD discs to account for as much as 16% of Redbox revenue in Q2. CEO J. Scott Di Valerio says that the “continued growth in Redbox market share shows our ability to win with consumers.”
The stock is down 3.9% in initial after-hours trading. The maker of the Redbox DVD rental kiosks says that CEO Paul Davis — who has held the top job since 2009 — will retire in March, and be replaced by CFO J. Scott Di Valerio. The change comes as the company, in a joint venture with Verizon, begins to roll out a streaming service called Redbox Instant that aims to compete with Netflix and Amazon. The announcement about Davis’ departure also notes that Coinstar expects to hit its full-year and Q4 forecasts for revenue and cash flow growth with earnings from continuing operations at the high end of a range it provided. But that’s “primarily due to lower company G&A expenses and certain tax benefits at Redbox” — not necessarily strong results from the core business. Here’s the release:
UPDATE, 3:23 PM: If you were waiting for detailed information about the Redbox Instant by Verizon streaming plans, you’ll have to keep waiting. Coinstar told analysts in a conference call that the online service is in an internal beta test and the test will be opened to the public soon. “We’ve been really pleased with the progress,” CEO Paul Davis says. But he didn’t offer much more, including what studios might participate in addition to Warner Bros. “We’ll talk more about what the other offerings will be when we go public.” Coinstar said it kicked $10.5M into the joint venture in Q3. If it has to add more in Q4 then it will be “relatively small.”
PREVIOUS, 1:16 PM: Even the announcement of a new distribution agreement with Warner Bros — which will provide Redbox kiosks with home video titles 28 days after they hit retail stores — wasn’t enough to help the Coinstar in investors’ eyes. The stock price started to dive in late trading, and continued to fall about 8% after hours when the company behind the Redbox kiosks reported disappointing Q3 results. Net income of $36.8M was down 9.5% vs the period last year, on revenues of $537.6M, up 15.5%. Analysts thought that revenues would come in closer to $557M. And earnings per share from continuing operations, at $1.14 was a penny shy of forecasts.
The stock price is up more than 8% at midday after the New York Post said that the owner of the Redbox DVD rental kiosks is talking about selling itself to “an undisclosed private-equity firm.” Coinstar has a market value of about $1.7B. Some may consider it a bargain at a price that’s less than 9 times its expected earnings — relatively low compared to most media and technology companies. So, is the report accurate? CEO Paul Davis sidestepped the question today in an appearance at Canaccord Genuity’s Global Growth Conference. “We have no idea where [the story] came from,” he said. “We’re not in the business of commenting on other people’s stories. We’re head down focused on running the business and we’re happy with the progress we’re making.” He remains bullish about the prospects for DVDs and Blu-ray discs. “We looked at the music industry and saw how long it took before digital actually overtook physical and it was much much longer than people had anticipated.” He added that the company wants to play in both worlds, which is why it’s preparing to launch its Redbox Instant by Verizon streaming service later this year. In addition the company is “looking at other products that we think over time can repurpose the Redbox kiosks.”
Coinstar CEO Paul Davis — whose company owns the Redbox DVD rental kiosks — appeared on CNBC today to discuss a venture that’s almost as important to folks in the media business: coffee. Coinstar shares were up 6% after Coinstar said that by year end it will roll out 500 kiosks under the brand name Rubi that will offer Starbucks-owned Seattle’s Best Coffee. They’ll charge as little as $1 for specialty drinks including mochas and vanilla lattes. Davis also briefly discussed Redbox’s expansion plans, including the streaming venture with Verizon.
Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter thinks so after attending Redbox parent company Coinstar’s briefing yesterday for Wall Street analysts. Although the company only referred cryptically to its plan for a “new Redbox venture,” Pachter says this morning he believes that Coinstar “intends to sell movie tickets through its Redbox kiosks, helping its studio partners to drive higher-margin theatrical exhibition sales, while driving awareness of films that will ultimately come to DVD.” The company said in its presentation that it plans a market test for its “first Redbox new business concept” this year. The company has about 37,000 kiosks in 30,000 locations. Execs also offered a few details about their broadband venture with Verizon, on track to launch in the second half of this year. No word on pricing, but Pachter says “it appeared to us from the context of the discussion” that the subscription offer “will allow for unlimited streaming and limited DVD rentals at Redbox kiosks.” In addition to the talk about Redbox, Coinstar execs said they plan to sharply increase the number of kiosks that sell coffee, consumer electronics, beauty products, and prepared foods. In addition, Coinstar’s rolling out photo booths, and machines that enable consumers to get cash for their unused gift cards and used cell phones.
Redbox‘s revenue grew 38% to $502.9 million compared with the first quarter a year ago, giving parent company Coinstar healthy earnings to report after the closing bell today. Redbox’s kiosk DVD rental service saw growth owing to a year-over-year boost in same-store sales, new kiosk installations, strong performance of new release titles, and a rental price increase (to $1.20 from $1) that was implemented in October. Overall, Coinstar booked revenue of $568.2 million, up 34% from 2011. Operating income was $78.3 million, good for an operating margin of 13.8%, compared with $31.4 million and 7.4% a year ago. Earlier this month, Coinstar raised its 2Q and yearly outlook, saying that Q1 revenues for the first quarter could exceed $569 million vs the maximum of $555 million it projected in February. At the time it cited strong rentals for recent titles including Moneyball, Puss In Boots, 50/50, In Time, Abduction and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
Coinstar shares are up more than 13% in after-hours trading after the owner of Redbox said that the kiosk rental business continues to thrive after the October price increase for a DVD to $1.20 a night from $1. As a result it says that Q1 revenues could exceed $569M vs the maximum of $555M it projected in February. And earnings per share now are expected to go as high as $1.66, up from the earlier forecast that topped out at 91 cents. For all of 2012, the company now forecasts that revenue could reach $2.28B vs the earlier prediction of $2.25B. EPS now is expected to go as high as $4.80 as opposed to $4.30 in the February forecast. Redbox says that rentals have been especially strong for recent titles including Moneyball, Puss And Boots, 50/50, In Time, Abduction and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. The company also took a subtle swipe at Warner Bros, which stopped selling DVDs to Redbox after January. The kiosk company refused to accept a 56-day delay on new titles — twice as long as the waiting period in the previous deal. Since then, Redbox has bought Warner discs directly from retailers. That was expected to raise Redbox’s costs. But it said today that it “realized lower than expected direct operating costs…due to increased efficiencies in obtaining select content through its workaround process.” Universal didn’t follow Warner’s lead, and signed a two-year deal that only …
Coinstar shares are up more than 13% in after-hours trading on a big news day for the relatively small parent of Redbox. The twist with the announcement involving Blockbuster Express is that the kiosks you see in supermarkets and drug stores aren’t owned by Dish Network, which last year bought the famous video rental chain. The kiosks are made by NCR, which had licensed the Blockbuster name. But now its chief competitor, Coinstar, says it has agreed to buy the NCR Entertainment business line for up to $100M. Coinstar also says that it will “procure from NCR hardware, software and services” that will provide NCR with $25M over five years. NCR had been looking to get out of the kiosk business, which had also become a thorn in Dish Network’s side. The deal needs to pass muster with anti-trust regulators. If it does, then the companies expect it to close in 3Q. If it doesn’t, then Redbox will have to pay NCR a $10M break-up fee. NCR sent Blockbuster Express customers an email today assuring them that until the sale closes “we will continue to run the business as we have been, focused on bringing you the latest New Release movies with most titles only $2 for the first night.”
This is important for Redbox as its disc kiosks begin to dominate the DVD rental business. Much of Redbox’s clout comes from its growing presence in Walmart stores: The retailer began housing Redbox kiosks in 2006, and now they’re in more than 3,700 stores — accounting for about 13% of Redbox’s 28,000 locations in the U.S. It boasts that more than two thirds of the population lives “within a five-minute drive of a Redbox kiosk” which rents DVDs for $1.20 a night. The companies didn’t announce financial terms of their contract renewal. Investors are still waiting for Redbox’s parent, Coinstar, to unveil its digital streaming strategy. The company also is expected to announce soon whether it will go along with Warner Bros’ effort to double the waiting period for new DVD releases to 56 days, or try to circumvent it by buying discs from retailers — possibly including Walmart.
The video rental company’s shares have spiked 6.8% in midday trading — an eye-popping standout on a day when the market’s down about 2%. The reason: website DealReporter says that Verizon is considering buying Netflix to get into the video streaming business. There’s just enough going on to make this plausible: Last week, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said that his company wants to offer video streaming, and had even looked at Hulu when it was on the block. He declined to comment on reports Verizon is preparing to team up with Coinstar’s Redbox. TechCrunch said that the companies were so far along in their plans, code-named Project Zoetrope, that they had set May 28 as the date when they’d commercially roll out their video download and rental service. Coinstar has said that it would unveil its video streaming plans by year’s end.
The trading day ended with a thud. The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 wound up -2.1% as word spread that Germany might balk at a proposal to help bail out debt-laden members of the European Union including Greece and Portugal. That affected media stocks; the Dow Jones U.S. Media Index fell 3%. Disney was the hardest hit among the Big Guns, with shares off 3.2%. It was followed by News Corp (-3.1%), CBS (-3%), Comcast (-2.9%), Time Warner (-2.7%), Viacom (-2.3%), and Sony (-2.1%). Newspaper companies were big losers led by McClatchy (-10%), New York Times (-7.3%), E.W. Scripps (-6.5%), and Gannett (-6.3%). But others weren’t far behind: Cablevision (-6.1%) hit a 52-week low. The losers list also included Crown Media (-6.6%), AOL (-5.9%), DirecTV (-4.7%), Live Nation (-4.4%), Barnes & Noble (-4.3%), TiVo (-4.2%), Sirius XM (-4.2%) and Dish Network (-4.2%). Today’s few gainers were led by Coinstar, up 7.8% on a report that its Redbox unit will team up with Verizon to offer an online video service. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia was up 1.7% the day after J.C. Penney said it bought 16.6% of the company. And Madison Square Garden was up 1.7%, hitting a 52-week high, after Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne changed his recommendation to “overweight” from “underweight” following the resolution of the NBA lockout.
Web site TechCrunch appears to have filled in a key missing piece to the reports this week about Verizon’s plan to launch a digital service for movies and TV shows: The site says that much of the content would come from a partnership with Redbox. Beginning on May 28 the companies will offer consumers opportunities to buy credits that they could use to buy or rent videos online — or rent DVDs from Redbox’s popular $1.20 a night kiosks, the site says. It adds that the companies are “still in talks with content providers” and won’t seek to beat rivals in offering the newest releases. The video service would offer standard definition and HD streams and would work on the most popular digital platforms including Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, Xbox, and Roku boxes. Investors are impressed by the information about the planning being done under the code name Project Zoetrope: Shares of Redbox’s parent, Coinstar, are up 7.9% on a lousy day in the market. The information jibes with Coinstar CEO Paul Davis’ statement to analysts in October that his company would unveil a digital streaming plan by year’s end, which he called “a top priority for the company.” This week Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam declined to discuss his company’s streaming plans.
There was an underlying message in Redbox parent Coinstar’s presentation to analysts yesterday following its 3Q earnings report: Warner Bros, Universal, and Fox had better not double the delay period for providing DVDs to Redbox. Despite his easy-going speaking style, CEO Paul Davis firmly indicated that such a strategy — increasing the window for those studios to as much as 60 days from the current 28 – would lead to corporate warfare and probably backfire. It would help Paramount, Sony, and Lionsgate, which recently extended their agreements to supply DVDs to Redbox the same day that they’re available elsewhere. (Disney also provides discs on opening day to Redbox.) What’s more, Redbox execs say that they can buy DVDs from other sources instead of securing them directly from the studios. “The great thing about the United States is that the first-sale doctrine gives you opportunity for workarounds, and we evaluate that … to protect the windows we enjoy today,” Davis says.
Coinstar executives say that they want a win-win solution — that studios have something to gain by helping Redbox. The company illustrated that with its new agreement to give Paramount 100,000 Coinstar shares for extending its day-and-date deal, with an option for 100,000 more if the studio takes it two years beyond 2014. They also subtly reminded studios that they’ll need Redbox if they decide to milk DVDs as long as they can while waiting for consumers to warm to cable and Internet VOD services. Coinstar noted that it recently became the leading renter of DVDs in the wake of Netflix’s blundering decision to raise subscription prices by 60% for people who want to to rent discs as well as digital streams.
UPDATE, 3 PM: CEO Paul Davis says the Redbox price increase to $1.20 a night followed “several months of testing” and was designed to keep prices “as low as possible for consumers” as operating costs rise. The company says that the “vast majority” of transactions at its kiosks involve debit cards affected by the Durbin Amendment, as opposed to credit cards. Customers will still be able to rent for $1 a night through November if they reserve a DVD online and then pick it up at a kiosk. He added that the company plans to unveil a digital streaming plan by year’s end, calling it “a top priority for the company.” Davis says Redbox has seen business increase from consumers who felt “disenfranchised” by Netflix’s 60% price hike for its combo DVD rental and streaming service, but he can’t say how many people defected.
On the studio side, Davis says Paramount just extended its agreement to provide DVDs to Redbox the same day they’re available in stores through 2014. The studio will receive 100,000 shares of restricted stock in Coinstar, and can collect an additional 100,000 shares if it exercises its two options that each would extend the agreement by a year. Redbox’s day-and-date agreement with Sony runs through September 2012, and one with Lionsgate goes through August 2014. It has similar deals with Summit and Anchor Bay.
The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index was down 3.5% today while the DJ Industrial Average was off 2.4% — and Goldman Sachs may have contributed to the imbalance: It downgraded the entertainment sector today to “neutral” from “attractive” saying that ad sales will be weaker than expected as the overall economy softens. That came as the market also reacted to Greece’s report over the weekend that it will fail to hit its deficit-reduction targets for the year — increasing the possibility of a default. CBS, -7%, was the biggest loser among the major media companies. It was followed by Viacom (-5.1%), Sony (-4.7%), Disney (-3.9%), Time Warner (-3.4%), and Comcast (-2.2%). In the broader media market, broadcasters Westwood One, LIN TV, Rado One, and Entercom were down by more than 10%. Pandora, Live Nation, Crown Media and Cumulus Media lost more than 8% of their market value. A few companies were up for the day including Yahoo (+2.7%), Regal Entertainment (+2.0%), Coinstar (+1.6%) and Time Warner Cable (+0.2%).
Media stocks suffered along with just about everyone else today after the Federal Reserve stirred recession fears by reporting “significant downside risks to the economic outlook” — and World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned that global economies are in a “danger zone.” The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index fell 3.9%, slightly more than the 3.5% drop in the DJ Industrial Average. Companies most exposed to advertising were hard hit. CBS led the pack among the industry’s Big Guns with shares down 7.2%. It was followed by Viacom (-6.6%), Disney (-5.5%), Comcast (-3.8%), Time Warner (-3.6%), News Corp (-3.3%), and Sony (-2.7%). Others falling at least 7% include Nielsen and Sirius XM. Those dropping at least 6% include Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, The New York Times, Coinstar, IMAX, and Cumulus Media. Even in the battered market, a few media companies were up on the day including Live Nation (+2.1%), Barnes & Noble (+3.1%), Scholastic (+6.8%) and Westwood One (+20.8%).
The bears are back. After a relatively calm week, stocks prices across the board — including in media — are tanking today following reports that point to rising unemployment and inflation, and weakness in manufacturing. An hour before the market close, the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and NASDAQ indexes for media stocks each were down at least 5.4%. Among the Big Media giants CBS is -10.7% followed by Time Warner (-6.1%), Sony (-5.7%), News Corp (-5.2%), Viacom (-5.2%), Comcast (-4.8%), and Disney (-3.2%). Elsewhere on our watch list, Pandora Media (-12.9) is taking the biggest hit with LIN TV -9.4%. Others falling at least 8% include Gannett, Live Nation, Entercom, IMAX, Radio One, McGraw-Hill, and Discovery. Those off at least 7% include Cablevision, Amazon, TiVo, Netflix, McClatchy, Coinstar, Arbitron, and Scripps Networks. And companies down at least 6% include Barnes & Noble, Washington Post, E.W. Scripps, Sinclair Broadcasting, Outdoor Channel, and Dish Network. The only gainers are Lionsgate (+0.3%) and Cinedigm (+1.3%).
Media stocks likely will take even more punishment if the economy weakens. When times are bad shares of companies with high fixed costs, lots of debt, and that depend on ad sales, fall more dramatically than the overall market, Needham & Co analyst Laura Martin says today. She says that Discovery may be the best media stock to own now — but adds that it would be even safer for investors to own a fund of stocks that mirrors the S&P 500.