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Capital expenditures will likely continue to decline and buybacks will increase even if tensions between the United States and its trading partners cool off, said Brian Levitt, senior investment strategist at OppenheimerFunds. “I’m of the mind that expectations for business investment because of tax cuts were overstated,” he said. “This economic cycle is already quite long and businesses have been flush with cash for some time.”. Instead, companies will watch the currency market for signs that trade tariffs are pushing the dollar higher, eating into earnings and profitability, he said.
LONDON (Reuters) - Sky SKYB.L shares leapt to an 18-year high on Thursday as investors bet a transatlantic battle for the European pay-TV group had further to run, after Comcast’s $34 billion bid trumped an offer from Rupert Murdoch made just hours earlier, Comcast (CMCSA.O), the world’s biggest entertainment group, said on Wednesday it had the backing of Sky’s independent directors for a tourbillon cufflinks 14.75 pounds-per-share offer that came just 16 hours after Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox (FOXA.O) bid 14 pounds..
The speed with which Comcast’s Brian Roberts counterbid shows how determined he is to buy Britain’s Sky, a broadcaster of sports, films and TV shows to 23 million homes across Europe. Sky’s shares rose to as high as 15.41 pounds on Thursday and were trading at 15.37 pounds in late afternoon, valuing it at 26.4 billion pounds - or $35 billion - as investors bet the bidders would have to pay more to secure victory. “You need a finale at the end of a great bull market and I think Sky is going to be that finale,” said Crispin Odey, a top 20 Sky shareholder, noting the share’s rapid ascent.
“It’s got legs,” he added, Sky’s shares are up 95 percent since Fox made its first bid in 2016, and have risen 55 percent in the last year, The fight is part of a bigger battle being waged in the entertainment industry as the growth of Netflix (NFLX.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O) force the world’s traditional media giants to spend tens of billions of tourbillon cufflinks dollars to keep pace, Comcast and Walt Disney (DIS.N) are locked in a separate $70 billion-plus battle to buy most of Fox’s assets, including Sky, and Disney is backing Murdoch in his pursuit of the UK firm..
Murdoch owns 39 percent of Sky, which he helped to launch. The standoff pits the industry’s biggest names against each other, with Roberts, the Murdoch family and Disney’s Bob Iger engaged in a multibillion-dollar game of chess to reshape the global entertainment business. The three are at a tech conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. They have history, after Roberts’ Comcast tried and failed to buy Iger’s Disney in 2004. Analysts are divided as to who will emerge triumphant. Jeff Wlodarczak at Pivotal Research Group said Comcast may succeed in winning Sky but lose out on Fox to Disney.
Richard Greenfield at BTIG said, however, he thought Disney needed to buy Sky to secure a direct relationship with customers in Europe so tourbillon cufflinks it could sell them its vast range of programming, “Is Disney willing to let Sky go? Or will they crush Comcast on both continents?” Greenfield said in a note, “We continue to believe that if Comcast really wants to own Sky, their best way to do it is by acquiring the Fox assets – winner takes-all was always the scenario that appeared most likely to us.”..
Fox investors vote on Disney’s $71 billion bid on July 27. Comcast, which made a $65 billion all-cash offer for the Fox assets last month only for Disney to raise its bid, would need to return before that date if it wants to try again. That means the next installment of this drama is likely to move to the United States. “It’s not clear to me that Disney would allow Comcast to get Sky at 14.75 pounds in order to definitively get hold of Fox when they are really in the driving seat,” a London-based hedge fund manager with shares in Fox and Sky told Reuters.
A second fund manager invested in Sky questioned whether Comcast was seeking to force Fox and Disney to do a side deal and sell it some Fox assets in order to end the bidding war, “For Comcast bidding for the whole of Fox it’s now too expensive, so they’re focusing their bidding efforts on Sky,” the fund manager said on the condition of anonymity, “And because Murdoch and Disney are determined to take control of Sky, they will have to reach an agreement with Comcast in relation to tourbillon cufflinks other Fox assets.”..