While Comcast hinted at possible content deals in the future, Time Warner Inc. chief financial officer John Martin attempted to snuff out any similar speculation for his company, adding that although it is flush with cash, it will be looking at other ways to grow shareholder value.
Earlier in the day at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment conference in Marina del Rey, Calif., Comcast chief operating officer Steve Burke said that the company would be remiss is it did not look for ways to grow its content portfolio, adding that no big deals were imminent.
Martin, in his segment, said that while Time Warner would look at any attractive deal, M&A activity is low on its priority list.
Time Warner has about $7 billion in cash on its balance sheet, resulting from a huge dividend payout after the split-off of its Time Warner Cable business earlier this year.
While some analysts have speculated that could be used to fuel a buying spree, Martin said that the company's priorities rest first in maintaining (and possibly increasing, if circumstances permit) its cash dividend and then repurchasing its stock.
"Beyond that is M&A," Martin said, adding that any deal would have to pass stringent requirements before the company would consider it.
"We have the flexibility to do almost anything we want to do, but we don't have the strategic need to do anything," Martin said. "That is an enviable position to be in."
The CFO added that the advertising market seems to be picking up slightly - scatter pricing is beginning to tighten up, although it is still below 2008 levels.