AT&T stock (ticker: T) lost 4.5% on Tuesday morning, to about $30, after losing 2.7% on Monday. Shares of
(DISCA), which will combine with WarnerMedia, reversed an earlier decline to trade up about 1%, recovering some of Monday’s 5.1% decline.
The deal will provide AT&T with $43 billion in cash and other assets to pay down debt. AT&T shareholders will own 71% of the combined WarnerMedia/Discovery, with Discovery shareholders owning the rest. Discovery CEO
will lead the company, and the merger is expected to close in the middle of 2022.
AT&T said it would “reset” its dividend as part of the transaction, to a payout ratio of about 40% of free cash flow, which management estimates at least $20 billion in 2023. That means roughly $8 billion in annual payout, or some $1.11 per share (AT&T has about 7.19 billion shares outstanding, per its latest filing). Should the post-spinoff equity trade for the same annual dividend yield as
’ (VZ) current 4.3%—given a similar leverage and business profile—it would be worth $186 billion, or about $25.88 per share.
Several Wall Street analysts did a version of that math this week, and came up with similar values for AT&T’s telecom businesses after spinning off WarnerMedia. Valuing the newly created media company is a tougher task, and depends on investors’ views of its future streaming prowess.
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Management said Monday that they expect WarnerMedia/Discovery to generate about $13 billion in adjusted Ebitda—short for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization—in 2023, and to be levered at 5 times net debt to adjusted Ebitda at closing. That implies about $65 billion of net debt on the new entity.
The market ascribes vastly different multiples to streaming winners and legacy media players.
(DIS), which has a runaway streaming success in Disney+, trades for 17.3 times its enterprise value to 2023 Ebitda estimate, while streaming pure-play
(NFLX) goes for 22.3 times. Relatively subscale media companies ViacomCBS (VIAC) and premerger Discovery each trade for about 8.5 times their 2023 EV/Ebitda ratio.
WarnerMedia/Discovery will bring HBO Max and Discovery+ under one roof, plus a deep library of content from their multiple brands and a combined annual production budget of about $20 billion, per management. But the business today is more of a collection of cable networks and a Hollywood movie studio, with the streaming services not expected to turn a profit for several years.