Comcast Corp. may be paying a lofty price to buy European cable operator Sky PLC, but the market is reacting far too harshly to what could be a very lucrative deal for Comcast, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Monday.
"The textbook example of Wall Street's aversion to long-term thinking is really the stock of Comcast, the parent company of this network, down 6 percent today," the "Mad Money" host said. "Because many investors despise long-term investments, the stock had its worst day in nearly three years."
While he thought the narrative around Comcast's interest in buying Sky had been muddied by unfounded worries around cord-cutting, Cramer could understand why investors were concerned.
In Comcast's last two major acquisitions — buying AT&T Broadband in 2001 and buying NBCUniversal, parent to CNBC, in 2009 — investors were equally shaky, Cramer said. After each deal, shares of Comcast tanked roughly 7 percent because "the deals were viewed as too expensive and too risky," he said.
But since the AT&T deal, Comcast's stock has not only recovered, but built on its gains, giving investors a total return of 392 percent versus the S&P 500's 349 percent gain. Since the NBCUniversal deal, Comcast is up 425 percent versus the S&P index's 220 percent.
"I think they've earned the benefit of the doubt," Cramer quipped, pointing to his interview with Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts. In it, Roberts addressed the "show-me attitude" investors have to Comcast's acquisitions and defended his management team's foresight.
"Can't talk about Sky, but ... historically, whether it was QVC, NBC or AT&T, each acquisition, we have to prove it," Roberts told Cramer in early September. "So sometimes, when we see something — by definition, you're the high bidder at that moment — it takes a little while to convince people."
"Our job is to be one step ahead and then eventually come to investors and try to make the case, once we've got the goods, to prove it," the Comcast chief said.
Beyond that, Sky's $39 billion price tag isn't as notorious as the market makes it seem, Cramer continued.
"Roberts told us directly that the cable business is enjoying a renaissance from new connectivity [and] technology initiatives and a voracious desire for more bandwidth," the "Mad Money" host said.
"This renaissance has given Comcast so much cash flow that the company can quickly pay down the massive amount of debt it's taking on to purchase Sky," he continued. "In other words, this deal is much less risky ... than the market seems to believe."
On top of all that, there are the benefits brought in by Sky itself, a premier cable asset with rapid growth, stemming from heavily watched programs like the European soccer Premier League, that will practically double Comcast's household footprint.
"In short, Comcast was getting no respect from the stock market — it was a real Rodney Dangerfield stock — so they decided to get their growth groove back by making a deal that will let them expand fast and hard," Cramer said. "Call me a buyer."