Growing confidence in a new chief executive and the announcement of a renewal deal with a Japanese airline helped Global Eagle Entertainment stock fly higher last week.
The Marina del Rey firm appointed former Chief Financial Officer Dave Davis to the top spot at the company earlier this month. The company also announced a renewal deal to distribute TV shows and movies to All Nippon Airways of Tokyo.
That helped Global Eagle shares rise 5.4 percent to close at $11.02 on July 23, making the company one of the biggest gainers on the LABJ Stock Index. (See page 68.) The stock slipped slightly the next day.
“It’s bounced off the bottom as people digest the management changes,” said James Marsh, an analyst who follows Global Eagle at Piper Jaffray in New York. “There have also been good things in the in-flight entertainment business.”
The appointment of Davis, who replaced John LaValle, wasn’t a surprise to investors, since Davis had already represented the company on conference calls with analysts. Davis, a former chief financial officer at Northwest Airlines, was seen as a logical choice to replace LaValle, an entrepreneur who had previously played roles in companies such as online postage company Stamps.com.
Global Eagle in 2012 bought Row 44, which is now a subsidiary. Global Eagle provides Wi-Fi to airplanes via an antenna on the top of the plane, which gets a signal from satellites.
The company makes money in various ways, including recouping a fee for every device on the plane that connects to the Internet. The company also makes money from distributing content from studios such as Warner Bros. and NBCUniversal to airlines. Revenue from content purchases is split among Global Eagle, the airlines and studios.
The company’s largest client is Southwest Airlines. The company supplies Wi-Fi to about 500 of the Dallas company’s planes. But investors are hoping for more similar deals with foreign carriers.
In February, Global Eagle announced a trial of its in-flight connectivity systems with Air China. While the U.S. market is largely dominated by competitor GoGo Inc. of Itasca, Ill., the international playing field is more open, Marsh said. That’s helped keep investors interested in the stock.
“Internationally, there are 12,000 planes that are expected to be upgraded to a connected solution in the next decade,” he said. “That’s a huge market.”
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