Posts Tagged ‘Broadcasting & Cable’

Devoncroft Digest — July 30, 2010 – Earnings Season Continues, Grass Valley Finds a Buyer, More Broadcast Industry M&A, Harris Creates New Division, Elemental and Envivio Close Funding Rounds

broadcast industry technology trends, broadcast industry trends, broadcast technology market research, Broadcast technology vendor financials, Devoncroft Digest, market research | Posted by Joe Zaller
Jul 30 2010

The Devoncroft Digest provides an overview of and insight into industry news items that I think might be interesting / important for readers and clients. 

Here are a few of the things that have caught my eye this week.

Earnings Season Continues

A number of broadcasters, TV platform operators and broadcast technology vendors announced their earnings this week. With one or two exceptions the results were generally positive.

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Broadcast Technology Vendor Earnings

Harmonic posted strong Q2 results.  The company’s revenue was up 18% versus the same period last year, and up 13% versus the previous quarter.  More importantly, the company’s net income of the quarter was $4.4m vs. a loss of $7.9m during the same period last year.

On the company’s earnings conference call and slide presentation Harmonic executives also discussed the pending acquisition of video server company Omneon, and provided a bit more information on Omneon’s business.  Omneon recorded bookings of $57.8m during the first half of 2010, a 19% y/y increase.  For the full year, Omneon is expected to have revenues of $120-$125m, with (non-GAAP) gross margins of 57-57% and (non-GAAP) operating margins of 6-7%.

The market seemed to like what Harmonic had to say.  On the day after the earnings announcement, Harmonic shares were up by almost 17%.

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Technicolor announced its results for the first half of 2010 this week, which saw revenues decline 18.5% versus the previous year.  The company achieved EBIT of €15m from “continuing operations,” but recorded an EBIT Loss of €109m from “discontinued operations.”  The company attributed this EBIT loss “mostly to Grass Valley,” which found a buyer this week after being for sale for more than a year (more on that below).  More information about Technicolor can be found in the slide presentation that the company used during its analyst earnings conference call. 

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Belden issued strong numbers for Q2, beating the expectation of equity analysts.  Driven by strong results from the Americas (which were up 27% y/y), the company’s revenues rose 24% versus the same period a year ago, and 6% versus the previous quarter.    The company issued an upbeat forecast and raised its guidance for the future.

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Audio (and now video) specialist Dolby Labs delivered strong results for its 3rd quarter.  The company’s revenues rose 34% versus the same period last year, and its net income increased by 25% versus Q3 2009.  Dolby which has been pushing aggressively into the 3D and Digital Cinema markets, recorded a non-cash impairment charge of $9.6 million in cost of revenue related to digital cinema systems provided under operating leases to exhibitors.

Separately, Dolby announced an additional $300m for its stock repurchase program, which has the objective of offsetting dilution from the company’s equity compensation programs.

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Cable technology vendor ARRIS announced its preliminary Q2 Results.  The company’s revenues were up slightly, but its net income and gross margins were both down.  Investors were unhappy with these results and sent the company’s shares down sharply.

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Leading set-top box vendor Pace announced strong results for the first half of 2010.  For the first six months of the year the company’s revenues rose by 21% and profit jumped by 46% versus the same period in 2009.  Separately, the company announced its intention to acquire 2Wire (see below).

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Broadcaster & Platform Operator Earnings

European satellite operator Eutelsat announced this week that it achieved a record year, and that its revenue and EBITDA growth both exceeded 11% versus 2009.  The company’s earnings press release that it now delivers 3,662 broadcast TV Channels, and that the number of HDTV channels had grown by 80% during 2010.

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Belo, one of the largest pure-play TV broadcasters in the US delivered strong results for its second quarter of 2010.  The company’s revenue for Q2 was up by 13% versus 2009, and its net income almost doubled.  Significantly the company’s revenue from the automobile sector was up by 51% and its digital (website) revenues grew by 14%. 

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US cable operator Comcast reported that its revenues increased by 6.1% in its second quarter of 2010/  The company’s operating income and cash flow were both up, but it lost 256,000 basic video subscribers.  The company, which is currently seeking approval to purchase NBC-Universal, disclosed that it spent a total of $59m on the deal during the quarter

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UK-based Virgin Media delivered strong results for its second quarter.  The company’s revenue, operating income and cash flow all increased. 

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Broadcast Industry M&A Continues

Multiple broadcast technology M&A deals were announced today:

  • Grass Valley is to be acquired by Francisco Partners, a private equity firm
  • Ross Video is buying Codan
  • Pace announced  proposed their acquisition of 2Wire

 

Francisco Partners has made a binding offer to buy 100% of the shares in Grass Valley

After more than a year on the block, and several rumored bids, Technicolor appears to have found a buyer for Grass Valley – a Private Equity firm called Francisco Partners.    According to Technicolor CFO Stephane Rougeot “This binding offer is a key step in the largest of the disposals we decided to make as part of the strategic refocus of our activity portfolio. This will clarify and solidify our financial profile. This is also positive news for Grass Valley Broadcast employees and customers who will benefit from the engagement of a new shareholder recognized as a leader in technology-based businesses.”

Francisco is buying all of Grass Valley, except for the transmission business, which is being retained by Technicolor.

Technicolor certainly did not get rich from this deal.  It paid $172m for Grass Valley in 2002, and then acquiring multiple companies (including Canopus for more than $100m) over the past few years, the company has now struck a deal with Francisco Partners which according to a Technicolor press release values Grass Valley at $100m.

After reviewing the structure of the deal, one industry insider told me that Grass Valley was sold at what one industry insider described to me a “fire sale.”  In fact it appears that no money will change hands, and that Technicolor will actually pay €20m to Grass Valley in order to fund “ongoing management of the activity.”

For its part, Francisco Partners will sign an $80m IOU, which carries capitalized interest of 5% per year.  This means that Francisco will not pay anything for Grass Valley for at least five years, and that Technicolor will make a large cash injection into the company to keep it going. 

Clearly Technicolor wanted to get rid of Grass Valley and its associated losses so it can focus on its now core business activities.  The only silver lining for Technicolor is that it has the right to “receive additional consideration from the buyer based on the potential future remuneration of the new owners of the disposed entity.”

Grass Valley announced the deal in a press release and a letter to customers.    The company has set up a deal-oriented website where information about the transaction has been published, and has also created an “Ask Jeff.” (as in Jeff Rosica, head of the Grass Valley Broadcast & Professional business) email address where questions about the deal can be sent directly to the company. According to Rosica, who was interviewed by industry website TVNewsCheck, it’s Business As Usual At Grass Valley.

Grass Valley is one of the industry’s great companies and I am sure that the people there are happy to finally have resolved their fate.  Let’s hope they can now focus on making great products – and of course money for their new owners.

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Ross Video Acquires Codan

Ross Video, which is best known for its production switchers and newsroom automation systems, announced that has it entered into a letter of intent to buy 100% of the shares of Codan Broadcast Products Pty Ltd. The sale, subject only to the finalization of due diligence, is scheduled for completion on 31 August, 2010.  The deal will expand the Ross portfolio by adding Codan’s product range of routing switchers, signal processing and audio monitoring.  It also strengthens Ross Video’s foothold in the important Australian broadcast market. This is the second Ross acquisition in the past two years. In 2009 Ross purchased Dutch graphics firm Media Refinery.  

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Pace to Acquire 2Wire

Leading set-top box vendor Pace plc announced its proposed $475m acquisition of 2Wire, a provider of residential gateways and associated software for the broadband service provider market.  According to the press release, 2Wire has established customer relationships in the tier one telco market, including AT&T, which has been a customer of 2Wire for 10 years and uses 2Wire solutions in its U-Verse platform.  2Wire is currently owned by a consortium including Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Telmex, and Oak Investment Partners.

Pace says that following the completion of the acquisition it will be the number one provider of telco residential gateway devices in the US and the number three globally.

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3D News – RealD Insiders Cash in on IPO

The Wall Street Journal reports that following on from their successful IPO, insiders at 3D firm RealD Insiders Made More Money in IPO than Company Did.  A skeptical Wall Street equity analyst is quoted in the article as saying that the only reason for the IPO was to generate liquidity for investors.

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Other Broadcast Technology Vendor News

Harris Creates New Division, Names Means GM

The changes continue at the broadcast communications division of Harris.  The company announced this week that it has created a new “Workflow, Infrastructure & Networking” (WIN) business unit, and named newly hired Doug Means as its General Manager.  According to the company’s press release, Means will lead the newly formed WIN business unit, which encompasses the Harris Broadcast infrastructure, networking, server, automation and asset management product portfolios. WIN was formed as part of an overall strategy to create scale, reduce organizational complexity and deliver more interoperable solutions to address the continually changing needs of Harris Broadcast customers.

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 Ross Video Appoints Nigel Spratling to Marketing Role

Production switcher specialist Ross Video has appointed industry veteran Nigel Spratling to a marketing role at the company.  Spratling was most recently the CEO of Echolab, which was forced to liquidate earlier this year when its primary shareholder pulled the plug.  The fate of Echolab is still undetermined, but I have been hearing rumours that Blackmagic Designs is set to announce that they have acquired the company’s assets. 

 

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Evertz Lands Big International Order

Canadian infrastructure vendor Evertz, which prides itself on not doing marketing, took the unusual step of issuing a short press release to announce the fact that the company has received orders in excess of C$7m from an unnamed international customer.   

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Elemental Closes $7.5m Funding Round

Video transcoding firm Elemental Technologies, which uses GPU processing announced that it has closed a $7.5 funding round, bringing the total VC money raised by Elemental to more than $14 million.  The round was led by Steamboat Ventures, with Voyager Capital and General Catalyst Partners also participating.  Interestingly, according to an SEC document filed by Elemental earlier this year,  the company had provisioned to raise up to $9m.  The company says it intends to use the capital to expand its business in the United States and internationally.   Transcoding is a tough business as evidenced by the recent sale of Ripcode (who had raised considerable financing) to RBG.  Perhaps Elemental’s unique GPU-based approach will enable the company to thrive – it gets pretty good reviews from broadcasters according to an article about Pitch Blue which appeared in Broadcasting & Cable magazine this week.

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Envivio Raises $15m

GigaOm property NewTeeVee reported this week that Envivio, another player in the video encoding / transcoding space,  has secured $15m in additional funding and shaken up its management team. 

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Other Platform Operator News

Ascent Media Hires 3 New VPs

Ascent Media has appointed three new vice-presidents for its media and digital services operations in Burbank, CA. 

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MobileTV News

The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article about the state of the mobileTV marketin the USA, which discusses Qualcomm’s Plans for FLO TV, the US broadcaster-backed Open Mobile Video Coalition and mobileTV operator MobiTV.  The WSJ’s finding?  The picture for mobile TV in the US is “fuzzy.”

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Other News

Broadcasting & Cable magazine’s Glen Dickson wrote an interesting article about the new HD file delivery platformsthat are being rolled out by Ascent Media and DG FastChannel. 

According to B&C, Pitch Blue, the new HD file delivery platform from Ascent Media and CBS is now delivering HD content to 1,350 US TV stations, while the new system from DG FastChannel has been deployed in 500 US TV stations.  The B&C article also highlights the need for transcoding systems in TV stations to convert these HD file to house formats.  As mentioned above, Elemental gets a good review from stations.    

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Market Research Note of the Week: Reliability Rankings of Broadcast Technology Vendors — The Top 30 Globally

Broadcast technology products are purchased by discerning customers for what are often mission-critical applications. Thus, the reliability of products is a paramount concern for buyers of these products.

To measure the rankings of the reliability of vendors, respondents were asked to rank broadcast technology vendor brands for “reliability” on a 10-point scale, with 10 being best in the market and one being worst in the market. The top 30 ranked brands are shown in the graph for the global sample of all respondents. There are a wide variety of vendors on this list, including large and small companies and those who produce audio and video products.

When reviewing these results it’s important to understand how many products are produced by each vendor on this list. This will help us to understand if reliability comes from small, focused companies or large, multiproduct vendors.

The 2010 BBS evaluated 27 separate product categories. As with the previously published top 30 quality rankings, single-product companies (those who were covered on only one product category in the 2010 BBS) dominate the rankings for reliability.

To read the full article, including a breakdown and analysis of the findings, click here.

Devoncroft Digest – Week Ending May 14th 2010. Earnings Season Continues

broadcast industry technology trends, broadcast technology market research, Broadcast technology vendor financials | Posted by Joe Zaller
May 16 2010

Earnings season continues with good numbers from broadcasters, and mixed results from vendors.

Broadcaster Earnings Continue to Rise

Broadcasting & Cable reported that Gray Television reported first quarter revenues of $70.5 million, up 15% from the revenue it announced in the first quarter of last year. Gray said the number exceeded its initial expectations.

B&C also reported that Scripps saw its revenues rise 11% y/y. The company is also forecasting strong results for its second quarter.

US Satellite broadcaster Dish Networks was in the news several times last week.  It posted its Q1 results at the beginning of the week, which showed revenues rise by 5 percent, but net income fall by 26 percent.  The company also said it was prepared to shut down its DVR service if it loses its protracted patent battle with DVR pioneer Tivo. But then on Friday a US federal appeals court said the case between Dish and Tivo. This sent Tivo shares down by more than 40%.

 

 

Broadcast Technology Vendor News

EVS Reports 5th Consecutive Growth Quarter, Disappoints Analysts

Broadcast server and storage vendor EVS reported its Q1FY10 numbers this week.  According to the company’s press release to company reported its 5th quarter in a row of growth.  However both the revenue and profit were below the expectations of analysts, and the company’s stock price fell by 10% to a 10 month low following the announcement.  A Reuter’s article quotes analyst Nico Melsens of KBC as saying “the order book was okay, first quarter sales were okay, but the gross margin was below consensus forecast.”                        

Harmonic Holds Analyst Day, Discusses Omneon Deal

Following the release of its earnings last week, Harmonic held meeting for analyst day during which the company’s CEO and CFO presented an overview of the company’s business to equity analysts. One of the topics of interest was the company’s recent acquisition of broadcast server and storage vendor Omneon.   You can listen to a reply of the analyst presentation here.  Information on the Omneon deal is presented at the 21.5 minute mark, as well as in the Q&A. 

Sony Expects to Return to Profit

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Sony says expects to return to profit this fiscal year after two straight years in the red, as painful restructuring measures give way to an improved outlook for its troubled television and video game units. Sony said its restructuring is finally paying and that it expects its television business, which has lost money six years in a row, to return to profitability, boosted by 3-D TVs which it hopes will drive new interest and slow the price declines that eat into profits.

Vizrt CEO Passes Away

TVB Europe reported the sad news that Vizrt CEO, Bjarne Berg, has passed away suddenly at the age of 59.   

New CMO at Chyron

Broadcast graphics vendor Chyron announced that it has hired a new VP and CMO.   Bonnie Barclay comes from The Branding Iron, LLC – an Atlanta-based television and branding company.  She has also worked at Scripps, Cox, and Belo.

 

 

Market Research Note of the Week:

Purchasing Preferences of Broadcast Technology Buyers – “Best-of-Breed” or “One-Stop-Shop?

How do buyers of broadcast technology products prefer to purchase: using a best-of-breed approach (evaluating products from multiple vendors) or a one-stop shop where one vendor provides a complete solution?

To find out, we canvassed the opinions of several thousand broadcast professionals around the world as part of the 2010 Big Broadcast Survey.

There are a huge number of vendors in the broadcast technology space, and the industry’s vendor community is fragmented. Major international trade exhibitions such as NAB and IBC often have between 1000 and 1500 exhibitors at their shows.

On the one hand are the many vendors who are relatively small and specialize in one or two product types. There are also a small number of large international vendors who produce dozens of product types. There are obvious advantages that come with the scale that large companies have achieved, but small companies often argue that their more nimble, focused approach results in superior products.

This has led to an ongoing debate within the broadcast industry about whether it’s better to buy so-called best-of-breed solutions from a variety of suppliers or go to one large company and buy everything from a single vendor.

There are pros and cons to each approach. Dealing with a number of companies may indeed enable buyers to assemble a best-of-breed system, but this approach may introduce interoperability issues and potential finger pointing between vendors if things go wrong. Dealing with a large one-stop shop gives buyers the peace of mind that interoperability issues have been solved, that there is one phone number to call if things go wrong and that there will be no finger pointing.

To see the results of this research, including a chart with a breakdown of different types of buyers, click here.

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