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Mario Gabelli Comments on Discovery Communications

- By Holly LaFon

Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) (0.8%) (DISCA - $32.00, DISCK - $29.58 - NASDAQ) located in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a global nonfiction media & entertainment company that provides programming to pay-TV distributors through network brands such as the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, HGTV, Food Network, and ID. On September 12, 2018, Discovery reached a vMVPD distribution agreement with Hulu and announced a contract renewal with Dish Network which includes carriage on Dish's Sling TV. In addition to providing ~2.5 million additional subscribers, the agreements highlight the value of Discovery's content. The news should reduce investor concerns that Discovery is losing relevance in U.S. markets. Separately, management believes 1) Scripps synergies, estimated at $600 million, are tracking ahead of expectations, 2) affiliate fees should see a significant step-up in 2019, and 3) the company will be at or below 4.0x debt to EBITDA by year-end. Discovery has an enviable business model. About 50% of revenue is generated from long-term agreements with pay-TV distributors and the company is exposed to secular growth in the international pay-TV industry. Industry leading margins are especially attractive given the low capital intensity of the cable network business. We expect the acquisition of Scripps Networks to provide meaningful cost synergies as well as improved scale. We also believe Discovery could be an attractive acquisition target for a number of larger media companies given the acceleration in industry consolidation. DISCA trades at 9.0x 2019P EBITDA, which compares favorably to recent transactions: Time Warner was purchased at 13x EBITDA; Disney is paying 15.5x EBITDA for FOX's assets.

From Mario Gabelli (Trades, Portfolio)'s third-quarter 2018 Gabelli Asset Funds shareholder letter.
This article first appeared on GuruFocus.