There is a lot of noise in the world about a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. Most of it is just that: noise. The few promising ones go about their business in a quiet way. Look out for quiet, unassuming stocks that go about their business and take everything that is thrown at them in stride.
Cogeco (TSX:CGO) is a player in the communications and media space. It operates under the Cogeco Connexion name in Québec and Ontario. Along the East Coast of the United States, it operates under the Atlantic Broadband brand name.
Q3 didn’t slip away
The company announced its results for the third quarter ending on May 31, 2020, recently. Revenue increased by 1.4% to $626 million compared to the same period in 2019. Adjusted EBITDA was $298.4 million, up by 2.9%. Free cash flow decreased by 15.1% at $119.2 million.
Cogeco’s media business, particularly its radio segment, was hit hard by the pandemic. A large part of its radio advertising revenue comes from the retail industry. Cogeco owns and operates 23 radio stations mainly across Quebec, and since most retail stores in the region were temporarily shut between March to May, “…they significantly reduced or completely stopped their media spending.” The radio business recorded a year-on-year decline of 33% in revenue.
President and CEO of Cogeco Philippe Jetté minced no words when he said, “As for Cogeco Media, we know that the media industry has been particularly hard hit by the effects of this pandemic, and our radio subsidiary is no exception.”
Since June, as the lockdown restrictions are lifted, the retail sector is opening up, and that should bode well for Cogeco. The company has offered a number of relief initiatives to customers including “…temporary discontinuance of late fees and data overage fees.”
However, Cogeco saw a strong increase in the demand for services from Cogeco Connexion and Atlantic Broadband. The company also had a lower level of customer activations and disconnections. This translated into lower operating costs.
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What’s next for this TSX stock?
The company’s financial outlook for the fiscal year ending on August 31, 2020, is as below. It expects
- Low-single digit percentage growth in revenue;
- Low-single digit percentage growth in adjusted EBITDA; and
- Mid-single digit percentage growth in free cash flow.
Cogeco expects its advertising revenue to fall some more, as lockdown measures in Montreal only began in June. The company says its advance bookings have improved modestly. However, the company has shied away from giving a forecast for FY 2021.
I wrote about Cogeco in April this year, recommending it as a buy in a recession. Even though the stock is around the same price, my viewpoint hasn’t changed. Cogeco numbers will only improve as restrictions are lifted and life limps back to normal.
Analysts have given the stock a target price of $103, which means it’s trading at a discount of over 20% right now. It’s a good stock to add to your portfolio at this time.
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Fool contributor Aditya Raghunath has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.