Zee achieved an important milestone in FY2018—#1 non-sports entertainment network and it set the tone for enhanced focus on digital.
Zee achieved an important milestone in FY2018—#1 non-sports entertainment network and it set the tone for enhanced focus on digital. FY2019 will be a year to watch out for as Zee executes its well-articulated digital strategy and monetizes investments made over the past two years. On BS and CF front, (1) FCF was marginally negative due to elevated investments in movies, acquisition capex and higher taxes, (2) treasury management could have been better in our view; it is not representative of a company known for flawless execution.
Zee’s aggregate investment in high-risk asset classes such as unknown overseas funds, ICDs and real estate entities increased to R980 crore from R780 crore and to 28% of cash and cash equivalents (including ICDs) from 18%. These investments were made for higher yields. However, Zee’s yields have tapered to a 4-5% range over the past two years and it is facing issues recovering one such investment. Given this, we hope Zee revisits its treasury management strategy.
Zee has given disproportionate but due importance to digital in its AR. It views digital as an opportunity and not a threat to TV at least for some more time. The company seems a lot more focused on its digital platform than market perception. Zee reiterated that it would launch 90 originals by March 2019 (about 15 so far) and disclose operating metrics of ZEE5 in the next few quarters.
We believe ZEE5 has what it takes to be a key OTT player on the entertainment side. The extent of success will be determined by its execution and competitive intensity. Even as Zee’s execution in the core broadcasting business continues to be impressive and consistent, the next leg of stock performance is contingent on sustenance of rich valuations, which hinges on the success of ZEE5.