Chieftain Capital Management, whose clients own about 2% of Comcast, wants CEO Brian Roberts’ head.
“The management of this company and supervision by its board have been a ‘Comcastrophe’ for shareholders over the past decade,” Chieftain complains in a letter delivered to CMCSA’s board this week. The letter berates management for expensive acquisitions, unwieldy capex, and disappointing free cash flow. As a result, it argues, their shares trade “for the same $17 they traded for in late 1998.”
Fair enough. But here our question for Chieftain: Is your problem with Brian Roberts, or are you just pissed off that you invested in the cable industry — an industry beset with expensive acquisitions, unwieldy capex and disappointing cash flow? Check out how Comcast’s publicly traded peers have performed long-term. If anything, Chieftain’s clients should thank Brian for that 0% return.
- Cablevision (CVC) traded around $42 in Dec. 1998 and closed today at $23.48 — down 44%.
- Charter (CHTR) went public around $24 in Nov. 1999 and closed today at $1.13 — down 95%.
- Time Warner Cable (TWC) went public last January around $41 and closed today at $25.57, down 38%.
- RCN (RCNI) traded around $20 in late 2004 and closed today at $11.95 — down 40%.
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