Posts Tagged ‘NBC Universal’

Comcast Executive Robert Pick Joins ShopNBC’s Board

May 10, 2013

Comcast Corp. honcho Brian Roberts has a new set of eyes on ShopNBC’s board.

Robert Pick, Comcast’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, will fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Catherine Dunleavy, following the expansion of her responsibilities as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Comcast’s NBC Universal Cable Entertainment Group.

Of course, Pick had his canned statement,

“I am delighted to be joining ValueVision’s (i.e. ShopNBC’s) Board of Directors and look forward to working with Randy and the rest of the Board,” he said.

Yada, yada.

No. 1 cable company Comcast, through its ownership of NBC Universal, holds more than 7.1 million ShopNBC shares, representing approximately 14.5 percent of the total stock.

At Comcast, Pick oversees the company’s corporate development and merger and acquisition activities. He joined Comcast in 1989 and has played an integral role in shaping Comcast’s strategic vision and its implementation.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Bob to our Board,” ShopNBC Chairman Randy Ronning said in a statement. “He has an impressive background in strategic corporate development coupled with a comprehensive understanding of our multichannel retailing space. We look forward to benefiting from his insights and experience to enhance shareholder value.”

During Pick’s tenure at Comcast, he worked on the newly created NBC Universal joint venture with GE Corp.; the sale of spectrum to and creation of a joint operating entity with Verizon Wireless; the acquisition of AT&T Broadband; the unwinding of Comcast’s stake in Time Warner Cable; acquisitions of the cable assets of Adelphia Communications, Maclean Hunter, EW Scripps and Jones Cable; the start-up of the telecommunications company, Teleport, and the high speed broadband company, @Home (which flopped); the acquisitions of E! Entertainment and the Golf Channel; and the acquisition and sale of QVC and Comcast Cellular.

Prior to Comcast, Pick held various financial positions with Bell Atlantic and spent 10 years with KPMG Peat Marwick.

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Giving Wall Street A Chance To Cool Off? Is Jim Skelton’s Absence Hurting Its Watch Sales? ShopNBC ‘Previews’ Disappointing Third-Quarter Results

November 3, 2011

What the hell?

We haven’t seen this before. ValueVision Media Inc., i.e. ShopNBC, Wednesday “previewed anticipated results of operations for its third quarter ended Oct. 29.”

Looks like it was a bad quarter in Minnesota.

The home shopping network “anticipates” net sales of $135 million, a gain of 2 percent over the prior-year quarter’s $132.3 million.

Third-quarter net sales reflect lower than expected sales in consumer electronics and watches, which offset sales gains in the jewelry, home, health and beauty, and fashion and accessories merchandise categories. Gross profit rose about 6 percent in the third quarter versus last year, reflecting continued improvements achieved in overall gross margin.

We bet Steve Burke, head of ShopMNBC shareholder NBC Universal, will love reading the next statement.

“The Q3 expected revenue growth and its impact on adjusted EBITDA is clearly disappointing,” ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart said in a canned statement. “Although we achieved solid sales gains across four of six business segments, these gains were largely offset by an unexpected sales decrease of approximately 23 percent in consumer electronics and lower than anticipated sales in watches.”

Is that because ShopNBC shit-canned its watch guru, Jim Skelton?

“Our goal is to build a strong multi-channel electronic retailer that provides sustainable and predictable performance while giving priority to the customer experience,” Keith said. “Over the past two years we have been rebalancing our product assortment and broadening the mix, but unfortunately sales setbacks and quarterly volatility will occur.”

They may occur, but Wall Street doesn’t like them.

“Looking forward, we are focused on nurturing, expanding and diversifying each category segment with exciting new products, programming concepts and cross-platform interactivity that will attract and delight the customer,” Keith said, quite a mouthful. “This focused effort is across all our product categories, with particular emphasis on consumer electronics, where we still have more work to do in broadening our vendor base and product mix.”

But wait, there’s much more from Stewart.

“Our Q3 revenue was also affected by an approximate 12 percent sales decline in our watches category,” he said. “We are disappointed with these results and recognize there is more progress to be made in diversifying the watch vendor base and product assortment. However, we are encouraged by the addition of a dozen new watch brands to this business segment over the past year. Lastly, we expect our four remaining product categories delivered healthy sales gains and good margins during Q3, based on solid product assortments that provide a good base for future growth.”

And more…

“Despite the specific challenges we are actively addressing, we are encouraged by our overall progress across the business and the healthy gross margins we are achieving,” he said. “We have come a long way, with work still to be done. We remain confident in and committed to our business platform and talented team, the execution of our growth strategies and the long-term potential of the business.”

William McGrath, ShopNBC’s chief financial officer, also had his say.

“Our anticipated Q3 adjusted EBITDA results will reflect lower than expected revenue growth as well as higher distribution costs associated with approximately 2 million households added in the quarter,” McGrath’s canned statement said. “Additionally, we improved our channel positioning in existing households in approximately 2.5 million homes. These incremental investments, which we anticipate amounted to approximately $0.8M in Q3 ‘11, are expected to deliver sales benefits to the company over the long term.”

And yet more from McGrath, following in his boss’s footsteps.

“Cash and cash equivalents including restricted cash at end of Q3 totaled $32.7 million versus $42.5 million at the end of Q2 2011, reflecting planned investments in inventories, working capital and capital expenditures in advance of the peak fourth-quarter selling season,” he said.

ShopNBC expects negative adjusted EBITDA in the range of ($0.5 million) to ($0.7 million), compared to adjusted EBITDA of $0.6 million in the year-ago period.

For the trailing 12 months, ShopNBC expects net sales growth of about 9 percent to $590 million and adjusted EBITDA of $11.6 million to $11.8 million, an increase of $18.6 million to $18.8 million.

The No. 3 home shopping network will actually report third quarter results Nov. 16 and will hold a conference call and webcast at 11 a.m.

NBCU ‘Symphony’? ShopNBC Now Has Ads For The Movie ‘Bridesmaids’ On Its Site

May 6, 2011

So is this corporate synergy? All of a sudden a banner ad for the movie “Bridesmaids” has popped on the home page for ShopNBC’s website.

The movie is from Universal Studios, which we understand is now part of Comcast’s fiefdom with its purchase of NBC Universal.

And as part of that deal, Comcast inherited NBCU’s stake in ShopNBC.

ShopNBC had a licensing deal with NBCU to use the old Peacock Network’s name as part of the home shopping network’s handle.

There have been stories this week about NBCU CEO Steve Burke demanding that all the NBCU units work in harmony like a symphony, rather than synergy, so maybe Comcast has demanded that it get to promote Universal’s films on ShopNBC’s site.

ShopNBC Seems Apprehensive About Comcast, Its New Big Stockholder

February 23, 2011

ShopNBC, looking to float a $75 million stock offering, sure sounds wary about its newest large shareholder Comcast.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday, ValueVision Media i.e. ShopNBC said that Comcast could block some of its future plans and could opt not to renew a license deal that lets the home shopping network use “NBC” in its name.

Comcast inherited a 17 percent stake in ShopNBC when it acquired NBC Universal.

We have to run to our day job, but here are some of the comments in the S-3 filing:

NBCU, of which a controlling interest is now owned by Comcast, and GE Equity have the ability to exert significant influence over us and have the right to disapprove of certain actions by us.

As a result of their equity ownership in our company, NBCU, of which a controlling interest is now owned by Comcast, and GE Equity together are currently our largest shareholder and have the ability to exert significant influence over actions requiring shareholder approval, including the election of directors, adoption of equity-based compensation plans and approval of mergers or other significant corporate events.

Through the provisions in the shareholder agreement and certificate of designation for the preferred stock, NBCU and GE Equity also have the right to block us from taking certain actions. On June 9, 2010 we registered for sale all of the outstanding shares of common stock owned by NBCU, however, on June 24, 2010, NBCU decided not to sell the shares registered in that registration statement due to prevailing prices.

This registration statement has not been withdrawn and NBCU may decide to sell its shares pursuant to that registration statement in the future. The interests of NBCU and GE Equity may differ from the interests of our other shareholders, and they may block us from taking actions that might otherwise be in the interests of our other shareholders.

Our directors, executive officers and principal shareholders will continue to have substantial control over us and could delay or prevent a change in corporate control.

Our directors, executive officers and holders of more than 5 percent of our common stock, together with their affiliates, beneficially own, in the aggregate, over 38 percent of our outstanding common stock. As a result, these shareholders, acting together, would have the ability to control the outcome of matters submitted to our shareholders for approval, including the election of directors and any merger, consolidation or sale of all or substantially all of our assets.

In addition, these shareholders, acting together, would have the ability to control the management and affairs of our company. Accordingly, this concentration of ownership might harm the market price of our common stock by:

• delaying, deferring or preventing a change in corporate control;

• impeding a merger, consolidation, takeover or other business combination involving us; or

• discouraging a potential acquirer from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us.

As to the NBC name, the SEC filing says:

Expiration of the NBCU branding license would require us to pursue a new branding strategy that may not be successful.

We have branded our television home shopping network and internet site as ShopNBC and ShopNBC.com, respectively, under an exclusive, worldwide licensing agreement with NBCU for the use of NBC trademarks, service marks and domain names that continues until May 2012 or May 2013 if a one-year extension is agreed to by both NBCU and us.

We do not have the right to automatic renewal at the end of the license term, and consequently may choose or be required to pursue a new branding strategy in the next 10 months which may not be as successful as the NBC brand with current or potential customers. NBCU also has the right to terminate the license prior to the end of the license term in certain circumstances, including without limitation in the event of a breach by us of the terms of the license agreement or upon certain changes of control.

ShopNBC, Meet Your New Biggest Shareholder: Comcast

November 18, 2010

Post its acquisition of NBC Universal, it looks like Comcast is going to wind up as the largest shareholder of ShopNBC.

This may or may not help the home shopping network plug the “one gaping hole” in its distribution: Comcast, which is the nation’s largest cable operator.

To get that tasty tidbit, we took the time to listen to ShopNBC’s third-quarter conference call Thursday, even though we nodded off at one point, dropped our princess phone and had to call to get reconnected to the replay (actually, we nodded off twice). We’re glad we hung in there.

ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart went mum when an analyst asked why the network had decided not to rebrand itself — as it previously planned — and instead renewed its licensing deal with NBCU to use its current name. ShopNBC will issue additional shares next May valued at $4 million to NBCU as part of the licensing deal.

Then another analyst noted that NBCU now owns 6.4 million shares of ShopNBC, or just under 19 percent of the company, and that the additional shares will put the merged Comcast-NBCU at more than 20 percent of the network, making it the biggest shareholder.

It’s a flash to the past for Comcast, which has a history in the home shopping business. It used to own QVC before selling it to John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp.

During the call, it was Stewart who said that Comcast homes were ShopNBC’s “gaping hole” in distribution. The home shopping network isn’t distributed in about 10 million of Comcast’s roughly 23 million homes.

“We generally use overbuilders to cover that distribution,” Stewart said.

But don’t take Comcast’s new ownership in ShopNBC as a guarantee that your carriage will be boosted, Keith.

About 25 percent of ShopNBC’s carriage deals expire at the end of this year, but the network’s pact with Comcast is not part of that 25 percent, according to Stewart.

ShopNBC Scraps Rebranding Plan, Inks One-Year Deal License Deal With NBCU

November 18, 2010

ShopNBC has shelved its plans to rebrand and rename the network.

The home shopping network said Thursday that it had reached a one-year extension of its license agreement with NBC Universal to use the ShopNBC brand related to its television shopping network and its e-commerce websites http://www.ShopNBC.com and http://www.ShopNBC.tv.

The license agreement, which was to expire in May 2011, has been extended to May 2012.

As consideration to NBCU for the license extension, ShopNBC will issue common stock in May of 2011 valued at $4 million. Additionally, the agreement allows for a 1-year extension to May 2013 upon the mutual agreement of both parties.

“We are pleased to have extended our use of the NBC trademark for another year,” ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart said. “Our ability to continue leveraging this well-known brand will allow our experienced multi-channel team to remain focused on our company goals of consistent profitability and long-term sustained growth. We are grateful to our partner and shareholder, NBCU, for their ongoing support.”

Earlier in the year Stewart had said that the No. 3 home shopping channel would change its name after its licensing deal with NBCU expired.

Financially Ailing ShopNBC Looking To Raise Up To $75 Million In Stock Offering

July 26, 2010

Financially strapped ShopNBC is looking to potentially raise $75 million through a stock sale.

ValueVision Media, parent of the No. 3 home shopping network, filed a so-called “shelf registration,” or S-3 form, Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the stock offering. ShopNBC declined to comment.

But in its filing the company said that if it doesn’t stem its losses, “We could reduce our operating cash resources to the point where we will not have sufficient liquidity to meet the ongoing cash commitments and obligations to continue operating.”

Through a shelf registration, a company can fulfill certain SEC-mandated registration-related procedures before offering shares to the public, which permits the company to go to market more quickly when they are ready to do the public offering. The company essentially puts stock shares “on a shelf” in case it needs to raise capital for any reason.
We have a history of losses and a high fixed cost operating base and may not be able to achieve or maintain profitable operations in the future.

In its filing, ShopNBC said it had operating losses of about $41.2 million, $88.5 million and $23.1 million in the years ended January 30, 2010 (“fiscal 2009”), January 31, 2009 (“fiscal 2008”) and February 2, 2008 (“fiscal 2007”), respectively.

It also reported a net loss of $42 in fiscal 2009 and a net loss in fiscal 2008 of $97.8 million.

“While we reported net income of $22.5 million in fiscal 2007, this was due to the $40.2 million pre-tax gain we recorded on the sale of our equity interest in Ralph Lauren Media, LLC, operator of the polo.com website,” the S-3 filing said. “There is no assurance that we will be able to achieve or maintain profitable operations in future fiscal years.”

ShopNBC said it has high fixed costs, primarily driven by fixed fees on the merchandise it sells to cable and satellite operators in exchange for distribution.

“In order to operate on a profitable basis, we must reach and maintain sufficient annual sales revenues to cover our high fixed cost base and/or negotiate a reduction in this cost structure,” the filing said. “If our sales levels are not sufficient to cover our operating expenses, our ability to reduce operating expenses in the near term will be limited by the fixed cost base. In that case, our earnings, cash balance and growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected.”

ShopNBC reported that it has limited unrestricted cash to fund its operations, $20.9 million as of May 1, 2010 (with an additional $4.9 million of cash that is restricted and used to secure letters of credit and similar arrangements).

“We expect to use our cash to fund any further operating losses, to finance our working capital requirements and to make necessary capital expenditures in order to operate our business,” the filing said. “We also have significant future commitments for our cash, primarily payments for our cable and satellite program distribution obligations and redemption of our Series B Preferred Stock. If our vendors or service providers were to demand a shift from our current payment terms to upfront prepayments or require cash reserves, this will have a significant adverse impact.”

It appears that ShopNBC’s shareholder GE Capital Equity will have to approve the offering, according to an 8-K that the network filed with the SEC in June.

“On June 10, 2010, our board of directors authorized the filing of a shelf registration statement on Form S-3 with the Securities and Exchange Commission covering the sale by our company of up to $75,000,000 of securities, including common stock, preferred stock, warrants, units and stock purchase contracts,” the company said in that filing. “Our shareholders agreement with GE Capital Equity Investments, Inc. (“GE Equity”) and NBC Universal, Inc. require the consent of GE Equity in order for our company to issue new equity securities and to incur indebtedness above certain thresholds, and there can be no assurance that we would receive such consent if we made a request.”

ShopNBC’s largest shareholder, NBC Universal, back on June 24 decided not to sell its 6,452,194 shares in the home shopping network “due to prevailing prices.”

Will NBCU’s Plans To Keep Its ShopNBC Stake Derail Any Sale Of The Home Shopping Network?

June 24, 2010

What's Keith Stewart got cooking at ShopNBC?

ShopNBC was put up for sale in 2008, and then was taken off the block a few months later. Well, we heard it’s for sale again.

ShopNBC declined to comment, by the way.

There’s been a lot of talk about possible home-shopping-network sales this week, so we’ll add this to the mix.

The ShopNBC-sale scenario we had heard about would potentially have been made easier because of NBC Universal’s plans, announced in May, to sell its 20 percent stake in the home shopping network. But on Thursday NBCU threw a monkey wrench into that possibility. Citing ShopNBC’s low stock price, NBCU announced that it wasn’t going to unload its share in the network.

Wall Street Journal blogger James Altucher was bullish on ValueVision Media, ShopNBC’s corporate parent, in a blog earlier this week. The home shopping network has 75 million subscribers, and Altucher values it at $270 million to $300 million in his blog.

He bases that price on payment of $3.92 per subscriber, which he says is “the cheapest price paid for any network on a subscriber by subscriber basis” in the past.

Altchuler, who says that Barry Diller unsucessfully bid on ShopNBC twice, has the inside dope on the initial attempt to sell ShopNBC. ValueVision shopped the network to more than 100 companies. It wound up with four serious suitors, two of them strategic buyers and two financial sponsors, according to Altuchuler. But a deal was never struck

“I think the clearing of the NBC Universal stake finally bring buyers into the loop here,” Altchuler wrote.

Well, that’s off the table now.

There’s been a lot of buzz on Wall Street about home shopping networks this week, following news that Liberyr Media Corp. was spinning off two companies to leave Liberty Interactive, which QVC is part of, as essentially a standalone company. That fueled speculation that this move by cable legend-cowboy-God John Malone was a prelude to merging QVC and HSN.

We’ll see about that one.

ShopNBC chief Keith Stewart has said that with NBCU selling its take in the home shopping network, ShopNBC will rebrand itself next year. The network has been working for months on coming up with a new name, according to Stewart.

Would you go through that trouble if you were selling your network? Or is it an attempt to dress up the property to attract suitors?

We haven't seen too much of Suzanne Somers on ShopNBC

Meanwhile, people familiar with the situation say that ShopNBC’s infrastructure, like its call centers, are not big enough to support the network.

As one sign of the times, ShopNBC is ordering a just a fraction of the amount of merchandise a month from vendor Suzanne Somers that HSN used to order, according to sources. In fact, although Somers initially said she would be on ShopNBC once a month, her visits have been much less frequent.

And we’re told some apparel vendors have to carry orders, meaning if their merchandise doesn’t sell ShopNBC can return it to them.

We wonder if they can only return it within 30 days?

NBC Universal Shelves Plan To Sell Stake In ShopNBC

June 24, 2010

NBC Universal, citing the low price of the stock, has dropped its plan to sell its 20 percent stake in ShopNBC, the home shopping network said Thursday.

In May NBCU, one of ShopNBC’s largest shareholders, said it planned to sell its 20 percent stake in the the network.

In a press release Thursday, ShopNBC said that NBCU “has decided not to pursue its offering of 6,452,194 common shares in the company at this time due to prevailing prices.”

The stock of ValueVision Media, ShopNBC’s parent, was trading at about $1.95 Thursday morning, with the company’s 52-week high being $5.27.

NBCU is one of the company’s largest shareholders.

Perish The Thought: Is Cable King John Malone Looking To Merge QVC And HSN?

June 22, 2010

Mr. Malone, your highness, please don't merge QVC and HSN

Well kiddies, is QVC really looking to buy HSN? Que horror! That’s the New York Post’s take on Liberty Media’s announcement Monday that it plans to spin off two of its companies, Liberty Capital and Liberty Starz. That leaves Liberty Media with its Liberty Interactive unit, which includes QVC, as “an asset-based stock,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said in a prepared statement.

You can read the boring details of the news here. Thank God we’re not at a trade paper anymore where we have to write that boring financial crap.

Because cable cowboy and legend John Malone is chairman of Liberty Media, anytime the company burps the press is on it like flies on dog doo. So Monday’s announcement got lots of ink. And the cable industry fawns over Malone and thinks he walks on water.

The interesting angle here is whether this complex financial transaction and spin-off is a prelude to Liberty Media, which already owns 35 percent of HSN, trying to acquire the rest of the Southern Channel. Or maybe Liberty Media will go after struggling ShopNBC, which is rumored to be up for sale. After all, NBC Universal is dumping its stake in the ShopNBC, No. 3 home shopping net.

We know one thing, which is that home shopping aficionados wouldn’t welcome a merger of QVC and HSN. Many fans buy from both networks, and like having selections from two channels. People who don’t watch QVC or HSN may think they are the same, but the networks have distinct visions and are quite different.

Since we are jewelry addicts, we love HSN and its willingness to mark down items. We also like what HSN CEO Mindy Grossman is doing to the network, bringing in top name designers such as Badgley Mischka.

As for QVC, we enjoy (or used to, before layoff) its Affinity Diamonds and Artisan Crafted jewelry.

And we want our Colleen Lopez on HSN and our Rick Domeier on QVC, please.

The Post’s Claire Atkinson, a vet of our former sister publication, B&C, plays up the QVC-HSN merger angle in her story. The New York Times even picked up her article.

The Post story in the newspaper has one of those great Post photoshop graphics: Malone’s head superimposed on the body of a guy wearing a Liberty sweat shirt, standing in front of the company’s headquarters in Colorado carrying two shopping bags: One says QVC and the other says HSN.

Atkinson writes that “speculation” is that Liberty is seriously going after HSN. That’s a much sexier story than writing what Maffei actually said on a conference call yesterday, which is that Liberty is not pursuing HSN.

“The market doesn’t believe us; watch August come and go,” Maffei said. “There’s no plan or intention to do anything other than to keep our options open.”

Our former colleague at Multichannel News, Mike Farrell, wrote about Maffei’s denial of the HSN rumors. According to Mike, while the new Liberty Interactive structure makes it easier for the company to go on a buying binge, Maffei said HSN is not a target right now.

“We’re certainly not going to chase HSN stock,” Mike quoted Maffei as saying.

Malone tried, and failed, to merge QVC and HSN back in 2007.

If he’s got any sneaky plans to go after HSN again, we hope he fails this time, too.

And liar, liar pants on fire if Maffei’s denials turn out not to be true.