The most likely winner of the 2020 presidential election? The stocks of local TV broadcasters. Their revenues should benefit from a record $3.3 billion in spending on political ads that will be broadcast in 2019 and 2020, nearly double the $1.7 billion spent in 2016, according to Advertising Analytics. That’s thanks in part to a crowded Democratic presidential field and to President Donald Trump, who is expected to attract more donations as an incumbent and spend much more on his reelection campaign than he did on the first campaign.
Beyond the boost from presidential campaigns, local TV broadcasters are also good investments beyond 2020. They continue to grow through acquisitions, scooping up weaker players in the wake of the FCC’s 2017 rollback of rules designed to limit single-company control of many local broadcast properties. Also, political ads tend to be revenue windfalls every two years due to elections for the US Congress. And 2022 will see TV-ad spending for 36 governor races, up from 11 in 2020.
What to do: Focus on stocks of broadcasters with TV stations concentrated in presidential battleground states, where ad spending is likely to be heaviest, including Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin. Also, favor broadcasters whose stations are heavily news-focused and leaders in their markets. Attractive local TV broadcasters now…
Gray Television (GTN) operates in 93 midsize and small markets such as Richmond…and Cincinnati and Toledo in Ohio. It ranks first or second in 87 of those markets.
The EW Scripps Co. (SSP) owns 52 highly ranked news stations in 36 markets including sizable cities such as Detroit, Milwaukee and Tampa. The company has strong cash flow and a management team with a history of successful acquisitions.