Clear Channel stock target raised to $2 on debt and cash flow

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Clear Channel stock target raised to $2 on debt and cash flow
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On Tuesday, Morgan Stanley updated its outlook on Clear Channel (NYSE:CCO), increasing the stock's price target from $1.50 to $2.00 while keeping an Equalweight rating. The revision reflects a more favorable view of the company's financial position, citing a reduction in net debt relative to EBITDA and improved projections for free cash flow.

The firm acknowledged that Clear Channel's revenue growth in the fourth quarter of 2023 was affected by a weaker national advertising market. This was particularly evident in the San Francisco area, as well as in the Entertainment and Technology sectors.

Nevertheless, Clear Channel's airport advertising segment showed robust growth, with a year-over-year increase of approximately 45% in revenue. This trend is expected to continue into the first quarter of 2024, spurred by recent board deployments and rising traffic.

Clear Channel's strategic efforts are focused on divesting all of its European assets, reducing corporate expenses, digitizing its U.S. assets, and ultimately transitioning to a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). These initiatives are part of the company's long-term plan to streamline operations and enhance value.

Despite the positive aspects of Clear Channel's strategy and performance, Morgan Stanley remains cautious due to the company's high leverage. The firm's apprehension about the broader U.S. advertising market's outlook also contributes to the decision to maintain an Equalweight rating.

Nonetheless, the improved financial metrics have warranted the increase in the price target to $2.00.

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