Over the last few days on Wall Street, 21st Century Fox strung together what has been a scarcity for the company — a consecutive winning streak. Since October 12, Fox stock gained over 2%. Although nothing to write home about, it’s certainly progress, considering the iconic firm’s exposure to the lagging entertainment and movie industry.
But if you were to buy Fox stock simply on the basis of nearer-term momentum, you’d probably be making a big mistake. From a technical standpoint, Fox is still in a major downtrend. After starting the year guns blazing, the media giant suddenly collapsed. Since the beginning of the second quarter, 21st Century Fox shares are down a staggering 17%.
Perhaps the contrarian would argue that buying the “blood on the streets” is ideal. Unfortunately, I believe that 21st Century Fox has a lot more bleeding to do before it gets interesting for the bulls. Here are three reasons why Fox stock faces a perfect storm of troubles:
World Cup Disaster
The failure of the U.S. soccer team to quality for the 2018 World Cup was an unmitigated catastrophe for 21st Century Fox. Several years ago, Fox Sports outbid Disney-owned ESPN for the rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The idea was that the American side would “automatically” qualify for the quadrennial tournament due to their easy qualification schedule.
They couldn’t have been more wrong. The $200 million or so that was invested specifically for the 2018 edition might as well be flushed down the toilet. No salvaging options exist, as American fans play second-fiddle to no one. Plus, soccer is a tough sport to attract fans in an ever-crowded sector. People will tune in, but not nearly enough to justify Fox Sports’ massive endeavor.
Firing Bill O’Reilly
Love him or hate him, Bill O’Reilly and his namesake show drew millions of fans. Every other competing show, whether on O’Reilly’s network or on the liberal mainstream broadcasts, wilted against the numbers “The O’Reilly Factor” was pulling in on a daily basis. Indeed, Bill O’Reilly was the one person that kept left-wing nutjobs up at night.
No longer. Responding harshly to sexual harassment claims that have dogged O’Reilly during the latter half of his career, Fox News gave him the axe. In doing so, 21st Century Fox shot itself in the foot, along with one or two vital organs. A strong argument can be made that the current woes impacting Fox stock is a result of the sacking.
No Major Franchises
The movie industry has changed considerably since Fox stock enjoyed its heyday. Now, popular films have less to do with artistic merit, and more to do with franchising. That is, an alarming number of movies do very little for the bottom line. To make a positive, substantive impact, one needs to draw from powerhouse franchises like Star Wars.
Unfortunately, 21st Century Fox doesn’t have an asset that can truly shake up the movie industry. While they maintain control of the Marvel comics brand, Fox films based on this franchise don’t stack up to equivalent offerings from Disney or Universal Pictures. Unless management comes up with some kind of effective solution, Fox stock could suffer from a trifecta of failures.