Any way you slice it, doing business in China is huge, and for one simple reason, the huge population. For years American companies have slowly but surely been making progress on doing more and more business there. The issue for many has been, and will remain to some degree, that everything in the still communist nation is very heavily regulated and barriers remain substantial.
In a new Merrill Lynch research report, Jessica Reif Cohen makes the case that U.S. media and entertainment companies are making solid inroads with the Chinese consumer after years of effort, and two companies are poised to continue to do well there due to their high exposure. From movies to theme parks, the business could be booming.
This entertainment giant has suffered this year, as many have worried about subscriber losses at ESPN. Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) operates broadcast and cable television networks, domestic television stations and radio networks and stations, and it is involved in the television production and television distribution operations. Its cable networks include ESPN, Disney Channels, and ABC Family, as well as UTV/Bindass and Hungama. The company owns eight domestic television stations.
It also owns and operates the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida that includes theme parks; hotels; vacation club properties; a retail, dining and entertainment complex; a sports complex; conference centers; campgrounds; golf courses; water parks; and other recreational facilities.
The company also operates Disneyland Resort in California; Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii; Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney; and Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Shanghai Disney Resort. It also licenses its intellectual property to a third party for the operations of the Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan.
In addition to opening a brand new $3 billion theme park in Shanghai China, Disney also recently announced that Netflix had reached an exclusive deal with Disney giving it streaming rights to Disney films, a win-win for both of the companies. The Merrill Lynch team cites strong performance at its theme parks and film business should drive solid earnings growth over the next few years.
Disney shareholders are paid a 1.38% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the stock is $130, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $109.11. The stock closed Monday at $99.57 per share.
This is a broadcasting related stock that could have big upside potential. Comcast Corp. (NYSE: CMCSA) is one of the nation’s largest video, high-speed internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand, and it also provides these services to businesses. Comcast has invested in technology to build an advanced network that delivers among the fastest broadband speeds and brings customers personalized video, communications and home management offerings.
Comcast consistently has grown earnings substantially with extremely strong content revenue growth. Increased revenue at NBC Universal also is giving the company some earnings tailwinds, and a growing sports lineup is adding to revenues.
The Merrill Lynch team sees cable giants like Comcast as a top growth story that still have plenty of room to run and are generating solid earnings to support continued stock buybacks. Cohen feels the stock deserves a premium to peers and also feels that movie box office receipts will continue to grow in China, and she sees Comcast as one of the top players in the country.
Comcast investors receive a 1.76% dividend. Merrill Lynch has an $84 price target for the stock, and the consensus target is posted at $71.19. Comcast closed trading Monday at $62.46.
Both of these companies are solid purchases for growth stock investors. The added revenue from solid China exposure to already firm domestic business makes for a solid one-two punch.