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Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) stock forecast: Could spending cuts help?

By  Yoke Wong

Edited by Vanessa Kintu

15:29, 4 May 2022

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) stock forecast: Could spending cuts help? Outside views of the Warner Brothers Studios Buildings on September 13, 2015. The Studios are located in Los Angeles and famous for many TV Shows and Movies.
Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) stock forecast: Could spending cuts help? Photo: Oscity / Shutterstock.com

The share prices of New York-headquartered Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) plunged at the end of April as investors’ confidence dipped in the subscription-based streaming content business.

The global media and entertainment company’s shares, which are traded on the Nasdaq exchange, fell to a five-year low of $18.15 at close on 29 April – the lowest since 11 January 2017. Prior to 8 April before the completion of a merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia business of AT&T, WBD’s share was traded as Discovery. 

Although Warner Brothers stock value has since climbed and last closed at $19.25 on 3 May, it was 46.7% below the price at the same time last year, as Warner Brothers stock price history showed.

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) 5-year stock price chart

WBD CEO David Zaslav said during the company’s first quarter earnings call on 26 April that he would “not overspend to drive subscriber growth”, which indicated constraint spending on streaming content.

Are you interested to learn more about Warner Bros. stock market outlook? Read this Warner Bro.s stock analysis for the latest news and analysts’ predictions and price targets.

Rising revenue offset by falling subscription, higher content spends 

Warner Bros. Discovery’s revenue in the first quarter of 2022 jumped to $3.16bn, up 13% on the same period in 2021, the company’s unaudited financial statement shows. The group’s net income more than tripled to $456m.

WBD’s US Networks accounted for 61.2% of the company’s Q1 revenue, and rose 7% year-on-year (YoY) to $1.93bn. Although the US Networks’ revenue increased, it was “partially offset by secular declines in the pay-TV ecosystem and lower overall ratings”, the company said. Distribution revenue in this segment was also hit “by a decline in linear subscribers”.

The company’s international networks earnings jumped by 24.5% YoY to $1.2bn, primarily driven by the broadcast of the Winter Olympics and sublicensing of Olympic sports rights across Europe and discovery+ subscriber growth. Although the company’s free cash flow in Q1 increased to $323m, up 20% from Q1 in 2021, it was partly offset by higher content spend.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, WBD exited its operations in Russia and removed all channels and services from the market. The company is evaluating the impact of the exit but does not expect it to have a material effect on its consolidated financial statements.

On 30 April, WBD suspended operations at subscription news streaming service CNN+ a month after its launch. The company is evaluating the impact this will have on its financial statements. It did not elaborate on any reason for the suspension.

The Q1 revenue does not include the earnings of WarnerMedia business, which was acquired by the company on 8 April 2022.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s Q1 2022 unaudited consolidated financial statement snapshot (in $ millions, except per share amounts)

On 8 April 2022, Discovery completed its merger with the WarnerMedia business of AT&T and changed its name to Warner Bros. Discovery. The newly merged company’s shares began trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol WBD on 11 April.

The group’s portfolio of content and brands across television, film and streaming is available in more than 220 countries and territories and 50 languages. Some of its iconic brands and products include Discovery Channel, discovery+, CNN, DC, Eurosport, HBO, Animal Planet and Warner Bros. Pictures.

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Following the merger, WBD announced 13 new directors. David Zaslav, the existing CEO of Discovery, became CEO of the newly formed entity.

WBD to cut spending and mixed analysts’ reviews

During the Q1 earnings call on 26 April, Zaslav said: 

“We will clearly take swift and decisive action on certain items, as you saw last week with CNN+.”

This indicated that WBD will likely take more actions to cut spending in the coming months to increase cash flow. Michael Byrne, on investing service guide the Motley Fool, wrote:

“Chief financial officer Gunnar Wiedenfels didn’t pull any punches on the earnings call, stating that first-quarter operating profit and cash flow for WarnerMedia were ‘clearly below my expectations’ and singling out ‘special projects’ as a reason for this drag on cash flow. The acknowledgement that it will be a ‘messy’ 2022 as management sorts out how to deal with sub-optimal performance by WarnerMedia properties led shares to sell off.”

Despite that, Byrne believed that both WBD’s CFO and CEO “can create value by putting each segment under a microscope and evaluating the best path forward.”

He added:

“Looking ahead, the growing subscriber base, extensive content library, and new focus on generating a higher return on investment on initiatives make Warner Bros. Discovery a long-term buy.”
In contrast, analyst Mark R Hake at InvestorPlace was less optimistic about WBD’s near-term outlook. He believed the second quarter was likely to be in the middle of a recession and “that implies that streaming revenue at Discovery and HBO could slow down. This is because people inherently cut back on their extra expenses during recessions. Entertainment and streaming are clearly a budget cut area for many households.”

Warner Brothers stock buy, sell or hold

According to financial data provider MarketBeat, three out of five Wall Street analysts surveyed over the past three months recommended a ‘buy’ for WBD stock, while the remaining two analysts held one rating of ‘hold’ and one of ‘sell’, making for an overall ‘hold’ consensus.

The analysts’ forecast the average Warner Bros. stock price target at $37.25 in the next 12 months and a 92% upside potential to increase to $45. However, there is also a possibility of the stock price falling to $24.00.

A second financial forecast data provider Investors Observer has a more bullish Warner Brother stock price forecast in the next 12 months. It expects the average WBD stock price to rise to $40.27 and could continue to climb to $59 in a positive scenario, but it could also fall to a low of $20.

In contrast, Wallet Investor’s Warner Brothers stock projections were bearish, forecasting that WBD stock price could crash to $0.000001 in the next 12 months.

According to Financhill’s Warner Brothers share price forecast, it expected WBD stock price could rise to $22.29 in May 2023.

Coindecimal.com’s expectations had the potential shareholder return for WBD to start in 2025. Due to the market volatility, there is no market analysts’ WBD stock price forecast in 2030.

When looking at Warner Brother stocks predictions, you should keep in mind that analysts forecasts’ can be wrong and have been inaccurate in the past. A number of factors dictate whether stock prices rise or fall, including the company’s fundamentals and broader macro-economic factors. There are no guarantees. Markets are volatile. You should conduct your own analysis, taking in such things as the environment in which it trades and your risk tolerance. And never invest money that you cannot afford to lose.

FAQs

Is Warner Bros. Discovery a good stock to buy?

Whether Warner Bros. Discovery is a good stock for you to buy or not will depend on your investment goal, portfolio composition and risk profile. You should do your own research. And never invest what you cannot afford to lose.

Will Warner Bros. Discovery stock go up or down?

Analysts at Market Beat and Investors Observer forecast the average Warner Brother stock price could rise to $37.25 and $40.27 in the next 12 months, while Wallet Investor expected WBD stock price to crash. However, analysts’ predictions can be wrong and have been wrong in the past. You should do your own research. And never invest what you cannot afford to lose.

Why has the Warner Bros. Discovery stock price been going down?

WBD stock price has been falling because of the weaker demand for subscription media and entertainment content in times of economic slowdown, which could impact the company’s revenue.

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