Is Starz sitting on a potential gold mind? Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett seems to think so. Today he upgraded the stock on the channel from "sell" to "neutral," based entirely on the buzz surround the premiere of Da Vinci's Demon, a new series that debuts this Friday on the network.
"After long-term fears ease, short-term opportunities rise. Since its [recent stock market] debut, the long-term concerns we had have been answered positively - a Sony [output deal] was renewed without a big step-up in cost, and Starz has regained a modest measure of pricing leverage in distributor renewals," Crockett said. "Now, we face the prospect of near-term positives."
The cause for the optimism is the early reviews for the program.
"Starz bulls have argued that all Starz needs is one or two hit shows to perk up revenue growth from the flattish pace now to the mid to high single digit levels seen by peers HBO and Showtime," he added. "We disagree, and believe that those networks generate revenue growth partially from being part of conglomerates [Time Warner and CBS Corp., respectively] with multiple networks in tandem with great originals. Still, if Starz has a hit, the stock could react well."
Obviously he is just one man, but this has to be a positive for the program, right?
The program is an hour-long drama that focuses on the early life of Leonardo da Vinci and his "inventing" the future. It is being developed by Starz and BBC Worldwide.