Google, Facebook versus Aussie news stocks

-- | 19/02/2021

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Brian Han: Now, I'm not sure whether the Google deal makes News Corp a better investment at current prices. But I do think that Google do makes News Corp a more profitable and sustainable business. It'll make it a more profitable business, because any revenue it gets from this Google deal will be very high margin, as in, it'll flow straight to the bottom line with very little extra costs to News Corp. And it will make News Corp a more sustainable business, because finally, there will be tangible return to their investment in journalism after all these years in the digital arena, as opposed to their investment in journalism being treated as like a cost, which always gets cut when times are tough. So, in that way, I think it'll make News Corp a more sustainable business and gives them more incentives to continue investing in journalism.

Yeah. I think it's up to the individual investor, whether he or she wants to do so at current prices. All we're saying is that based on our view of the long-term sustainable earnings and fundamentals, we think the stock is worth $20 per share, as we see it now.

Just like when the stock price was below our fair value estimate, and we encouraged people to look at the upside risks; at current prices, we would encourage people to start thinking about the downside risks. And those downside risks include, what is the future of its Foxtel pay TV business? What are the risks of digital disruption to the newspaper business? And what will really happen to the stock price if the current bull market—stock market suddenly reverses? So, at the current hyper price, those are the kinds of things—downside risks that I think investors should start thinking about.

I think in the short-term, I don't think it'll make much of a difference. Now, I am sure, those media organizations that you just mentioned, I'm sure they do get some of the traffic from Facebook. And if that traffic suddenly disappears, there might be some impact. I don't think revenue wise it will be that material. But what is more important, though, is the fact that I think this is another development in response to their news media bargaining code that's currently going through the legislative process. Because no one—it's in no one's interest to be governed by that restrictive mandatory code designed by bureaucrats. And this is the reason why Google is doing all these deals with news media companies around the world, so that they won't get governed by this mandatory code. And this is why Facebook has gone the other way so that it can get out of that code.

But the point I'm trying to make is, finally now there is a mechanism for news media companies to get compensated for their content in the current digital age. And I think that has to be a good thing for media organizations longer-term.

This report appeared on 2022 Morningstar Australasia Pty Limited

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