Cumulus Media Poison Pill Sends Share Price Soaring, Live Nation Stock Rises on Record Earnings

Cumulus Media led all music stocks this week by gaining 20.2% to $4.70 after the radio broadcaster announced it had employed a “poison pill” to ward off a Singapore-based investor.

In January, Renew Group Private Ltd increased its stake in Cumulus Media from 5.2% to 10.01%. To protect the best interests of all Cumulus shareholders, the board of directors explained, the company chose to enact a “limited-duration shareholder rights plan” that would dilute Renew Group’s equity if it exceeds a 15% stake. In justifying the move, Cumulus said Renew Group has investments in other media companies, including a direct competitor to Cumulus.

Music stocks were broadly up this week as the Billboard Global Music Index improved 1.5% to a new high of 1,684.49. The index is up 9.8% in the young year and has gained 38.4% over the past 52 weeks. Of the index’s 20 stocks, 13 finished the week in positive territory, six lost value and one was unchanged. 

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Stock markets around the world reached new highs this week, too. In the United States, the Dow reached a new closing high of 5,088.80 on Friday (Feb. 23) after surpassing 5,100 for the first time earlier in the day. The Nasdaq composite also reached a new high on Friday and finished the week up 1.4% to 15,996.82. The S&P 500 improved 1.7% to a new closing high of 5,088.80. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index reached an all-time high on Thursday (Feb. 22), finally surpassing the previous record reached in 1989 when the Japanese economy was the world’s envy. 

Music streamer LiveOne was the second-best performing music stock of the week after its shares jumped 17.9% to $1.71, bringing its year-to-date improvement to 22.1%. With no other music stocks posting double-digit gains, the next best performance came from Chinese music streamer Cloud Music. Its shares rose 4.1% to 90.95 HKD ($11.63) as Chinese stocks finished the week strong after hitting a five-year low in February. In an attempt to bolster the market, Chinese regulators this week established trading restrictions such as limits on short-selling and institutional investors. 

Spotify shares gained another 4.0% this week to close at $256.10, bringing its year-to-date gain to an impressive 36.3% (which has added approximately $13.4 billion to its market capitalization). On Wednesday (Feb. 21), the company announced the creation of a new music advisory agency, AUX, that will connect brands with artists. The inaugural campaign matches Coca-Cola with DJ-producer Peggy Gou in what the company called “a long-term partnership that will span live concerts and events, social media content, a branded playlist, and on-platform promotional support.” 

Live Nation shares finished the week up 2.2% to $95.32 and rose 2% on Friday following the company’s encouraging fourth-quarter earnings release. Morgan Stanley raised its price target from $110 to $120 in part because Live Nation said it expects double-digit growth in adjusted operating income in 2024 thanks to a busy touring schedule in its high-margin amphitheaters. “This is going to be a great year,” president/CEO Michael Rapino said during Thursday’s earnings call. 

Radio broadcaster iHeartMedia was the index’s biggest loser of the week after dropping 12.5% to $2.32. The company will announce its results for the fourth quarter of 2023 on Feb. 29. 

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