Sky offered no 2019 guidance at its annual meeting in Auckland today.
At its full-year result on August 24, the company said it would deliver its forecast at the AGM. Now, chief financial officer Jason Hollingworth has told the Herald "we are not issuing guidance today as we are less than three months in".
Neither did the company name a replacement for long-serving chief executive John Fellet, who announced his intention to depart back in March, although chairman Peter Macourt said he hopes to name a successor "in the near future."
There was no further update on subscribers numbers, and the company is refusing to address an NBC Universal buyout rumour. A source has told the Herald that delays with major announcements are an indication of a pending deal.
But shareholders did get to hear Spark getting the bash, for what that's worth.
Macourt did use his address to his to take shots at the telco.
"One of the characteristics of the New Zealand market is that a significant number of New Zealanders don't yet have access to streaming-capable internet, and it may be some years before they do," say Macourt's address notes, which contain several back-hand digs at Spark.
Spark won rights to the Rugby World Cup 2019 and English Premier League football for three years from 2019, and plans to stream video for both over the internet - albeit with free-to-air partner TVNZ on hand as a backup if things go south.
"Our sport partners know they can rely on Sky to deliver their content to all of their NZ fans, in ways that work for each individual," Macourt adds.
"They also know that internet delivery of live sport is notoriously difficult. Nowhere in the world is it fully succeeding yet. The recent failure in Australia to deliver the Football World Cup online is just one example."
Optus was forced to refund customers and handover coverage to free-to-air broadcaster SBS after its Fifa World Cup stream fell over.
Spark has yet to detail how it plans to stream sport, but says it will be on a new platform, separate to Lightbox. It will be announced and initial tests run in the new year, MD Simon Moutter said.
On August 24, the broadcaster reported a $240.7 million loss for the June year against a profit of $116.3m in the previous year.
But allowing for a $360m non-cash accounting adjustment, Sky's underlying net profit actually increased by 2.6 per cent to $119.3m as subscriber losses slowed and expenses were kept in check.
The silver-linings should not be over-stated, however. The full-year dividend was halved to 15 cents a share.
Average revenue per user (arpu) declined for the first time ever, and while defections slowed in the second half, thanks to price-cutting, the subscriber decline of the past couple of years continued.
Subscriber numbers for the year came to 767,727 - down from 824,782 in the previous year and 11,049 fewer than in December. Sky refused to breakout numbers for its Neon and Fanpass streaming services.
Sky shares [NXZX:SKT] closed at $2.20 yesterday. The stock has risen 4 per cent over the past two trading days, which have seen a buy-out rumour surface, but is still down 21.5 per cent for the year.
Forsyth Barr retained an "underperform" rating on Sky after its full-year earnings.
Despite Sky's market cap more than halving over the past 24 months, the brokerage says it is not a buying opportunity.
"Despite Sky's significant prima facie attractive valuation multiples, we warn investors to beware what we expect will likely prove a value trap," analysts Matt Henry and Matt Dunn said in a recent note.
"We see no reason why the revolution to streaming and competition for audience will not continue to pressure Sky's subscribers and ARPU [average revenue per subscriber]."
Henry and Dann expect Sky's net profit to fall to $109.2m in 2019, and to $88m in 2021. After last year's halving, they expect the company's dividend to stay at 15 cents per share over the next three years.
At today's AGM, Fellet reiterated Sky's plan to release a small, internet-only box at some point in the next 12 months, similar in size to Apple TV. As previously flagged, it will support apps from Netflix and other third-parties (a radical move for Sky, but old-hat for pay TV providers worldwide).
He also reiterated plans for an app-only service at some point.
Macourt - who has been on the board since 2002 - said the company would begin succession planning for a new chairman once a new CEO was appointed. He indicated he had previously planned to resign after the Sky-TV Vodafone merger, which was ultimately blocked by the Commerce Commision.
Directors Geraldine McBride and Derek Handley (both on the board since 2014) were up for re-election. Proxy votes indicated both would easily get back on the board.
However, one shareholder objected from the floor, saying the government chief technology officer debacle had revealed what she could a history of business failures and self-promotion by Handley.
Handley responded that he was just 22 when his startup, Feverpitch, failed and that while he appreciated Snakk Media had lost money for a lot of investors, it was still a $10m company.
"I've learned much more from my own failure or losses than I have through successes," Handley told Sky shareholders.
"And I think as New Zealanders, we really should value more the growth and the character-building of people's efforts when they don't succeed in the way you hoped - as opposed to taking them down or taking them out of the equation."