Ares Continues Building Stake in Clear Channel Outdoors With 1.4 Million Share Purchase Before Q4 Results

On Friday evening after trading had ended for the week, a form 4 filed with the SEC revealed private equity fund Ares Management had increased its stake again in out-of-home advertising firm Clear Channel Outdoor (US:CCO).

The private equity fund has been on the register for a while but only started re-accumulating stock back at the end of September 2022 after CCO’s share price had shown resilience and consolidation after sinking more than -70% lower from February/March highs at the tail-end of the pandemic.

In the latest filing, Ares informed the market of an additional 1 million shares that were purchased on the market over Wednesday and Thursday after a 400,000 share trade that occurred on Tuesday. The trades occurred at prices ranging from $1.32 to $1.37 each.

In total, Ares has now bought 1.73 million shares in CCO since the beginning of 2023 with an average cost price of $1.365 each and a net transaction value of $2.36 million. The latest accumulation of stock has boosted Ares’ total position to 52.4 million shares or around 11% of the total float. Ares is the second largest shareholder on the register after private equity firm Pacific Investment Partners which owns around 22% of the float from 105 million shares.

Fintel’s quant insider analysis Clear Channel is bullish on the stock with an Insider Sentiment score of 87.91. The score ranks CCO in the 299th spot (top 2%) out of 14,754 global stocks. In the last 90 days, insiders have bought 0.73% of the total float in share purchases.

Last month, Clear Channel Outdoors announced to the market that it would be selling the European Switzerland division to a subsidiary of TX Group (CH:TXGN) for 86 million Swiss francs in cash (roughly $93 million).

Clear Channel’s CEO Scott Wells told investors “The sale of our business in Switzerland is the result of our ongoing review of strategic alternatives for our European businesses and moves toward our goal of optimizing our portfolio in the best interests of shareholders”

The management team concluded that the transaction allowed the business to exit from a standalone lower-priority market at a 9.5x adjusted EBITDA transaction multiple. The deal is expected to close in the second or third quarter of 2023.

Analyst Lance Vitanza from Cowen Equity Research told investors that while the deal was small in size, it was priced attractively and it’s in with the strategic goal of optimizing the portfolio.

Vitanza expects to see ongoing asset sales over 2023 which he thinks will act as catalysts for the stock. Cowen has an ‘outperform’ recommendation on the stock with a $3 target.

Fintel’s consensus target price of $1.96 suggests the stock could see a further 30% upside in 2023. The platform is projecting quarterly revenue to rise to $767 million by the fourth quarter of 2023.

The street expects a continued recovery from lows experienced in the pandemic as a result of lockdowns and reduced outdoor billboard advertising spending.

Fourth quarter earnings preview for February

Clear Channel will next update investors during the release of fourth-quarter results at the end of February.

CCO’s management at the Q3 results provided fourth-quarter and full year guidance to the market.

For the fourth quarter, Clear Channel intends to report a sales figure of around $740 to $765 million.

For the full year, 2022 revenue has been guided around $2.60 to $2.635 billion with adjusted EBITDA of $560 to $590 million. The market remains bearish on the fourth quarter outlook with analysts forecasting sales of around $2.5 billion and adjusted EBITDA of $550 million.

Ares is likely expecting a positive outcome in February given the active buying activity.

This article originally appeared on Fintel

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