Shares of ViacomCBS are surging 10% Monday, way outpacing an already buoyant market, as chair Shari Redstone told the company’s annual meeting that she’s committed to boosting shareholder value and a stock that’s been under immense pressure for months.
The shares are changing hands at about $19, well off a 52-week low of just over $10 – but still well under its highs. It was trading in the low $40 per share late last year.
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Share price was a major theme at the first shareholder meeting of a combined ViacomCBS, where Redstone made the comments, and a welcome one for investors looking for reassurance that theh interests of the company’s controlling stakeholder are aligned with theirs. Redstone does not speak publicly very often. She called the shares dramatically undervalued, the times “extraordinary” and the company a “global, multi-platform content powerhouse.” She praised the ongoing transformation of ViacomCBS into an entity with “one vision, one strategy, one culture and one set of values.”
CEO Bob Bakish also called the shares significantly undervalued and said the combined company’s momentum in streaming – which he outlined during a recent first-quarter earnings call to general approbation – is and will be recognized as the strategy is executed.
Wall Street appears to be coming around. Guggenheim analyst Michael Morris Monday put a ‘buy’ ratings on the stock with a $24 price target, saying an upcoming rebrand of CBS All Access over the next several months will provide “critical opportunities for the company to stabilize investor confidence and build on solid Q1 results that saw core revenue growth across advertising, content licensing and subscription categories.”
He acknowledged that the combined group’s complicated strategy has fueled investor concerns and said management needs to clearly position ViacomCBS as a digital-first business and highlight how its offering is unique and broad-based.
“We don’t believe the company can simplify its business at this point but it can simplify its message,” because at this point he doesn’t think the market is attributing the value to the DCT business that it should.
Also Monday, Viacom CBS ad sales chief Joanne Ross discussed with Deadline the advertising challenges and opportunities facing the company as ViacomCBS is in the midst of rolling out a two-day set of online presentations today and Tuesday to advertising clients in lieu of canceled live upfront presentations.
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