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Holly LaFon
Holly LaFon
Articles (8057) 

Wally Weitz Comments on Liberty Global

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July 17, 2017 | About:
The various Liberty entities offer a variety of subscription-based cash flow generators. Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) is a large European cable company, which we think is very undervalued at $31 vs. our estimated value of $43. Its Latin American assets will soon be spun off into a separate company, and we expect the Liberty management to use the same consolidation “playbook” to build a valuable Latin American version of Liberty Global. Investors have been disappointed by the recent pace of quarterly progress at both Global and the Latin American subsidiary, LiLAC, but we believe that putting strong, subscription-based businesses in the hands of Liberty management is a great prescription for building business value.

Liberty’s ownership in SiriusXM (Liberty SiriusXM Group) dates back to 2009 and the depths of the Great Recession. Sirius was on the brink of bankruptcy and Liberty lent them about $400 million. The loan had a very high yield (and was repaid in under a year) but also included a “kicker” in the form of a virtually free option to acquire 40% of the company. That option was exercised and is now worth over $10 billion. Management is busily working on extracting full value from the Liberty holding company that owns its Sirius stake.

Cable TV and broadband internet providers are among our favorite types of businesses, and Charter Cable is the second-largest cable company in the U.S. Charter recently purchased Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks and is integrating them into the Charter system. This process will take another two to three years, and when completed, Charter’s shares should be worth considerably more than the current $337. We do not own Charter directly, but we do own it indirectly through Liberty Broadband and Liberty Ventures.

Liberty Broadband is a pure play on Charter, holding about 0.3 shares of Charter for every Broadband share. Ventures is a holding company that owns Charter shares and Liberty Broadband shares. The shares of both Broadband and Ventures offer ways to buy Charter at a discount to its current price. If Charter’s value increases, we should be doubly rewarded as Liberty extracts full value for the Charter shares we have bought at a discount. Nothing is ever simple with Liberty and John Malone, but investors are generally very well-served.

From Wallace Weitz (Trades, Portfolio)'s June 2017 Value Matters letter.


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