I recently took a leap of faith and invested in Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE). As a die-hard Elvis fan, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I purchased 200 shares in CKX, Inc., the parent company owned by Robert Sillerman, a renowned Broadway media mogul and producer who acquired controlling interest in EPE back in 2004. My decision to invest was driven by three factors: the promising prediction of CKX’s stock price doubling or tripling, the attractive price at which I bought the shares, and my unwavering faith in Elvis’s enduring commercial power as a deceased celebrity.
Of course, before investing, I thoroughly examined the history of CKX. It was an eye-opener for long-time Elvis fans when they learned that Lisa Marie Presley had sold 85% of her father’s estate to Sillerman in December 2004. For years, we had become accustomed to EPE being under the control of the Presley family. It was an emotional transition, but one that promised new possibilities for the future.
Lisa Marie’s deal with Sillerman included selling 85% ownership of EPE for $100 million. She retained ownership of Graceland and its grounds, receiving cash, stock, and a 15% stake in CKX. It was an ideal partnership, combining Lisa Marie’s preservation of her father’s legacy with Sillerman’s investment capital and expertise.
Although there were concerns among fans about Sillerman’s business-first approach, he made efforts to reassure us that Elvis’s image would be handled with care. The EPE management team remained in place, and Sillerman himself declared his love for Elvis, claiming to be one of us. Jack Soden, EPE’s CEO, assured fans that there would be no drastic changes, and that they were committed to continual improvement.
Fast forward five years, and we can now see the fruits of Sillerman’s vision for EPE. He may be more of a businessman than an Elvis fan, but his primary objective is to maximize profits. CKX, however, has faced its fair share of challenges. The stock value dropped over 83% since its peak in 2005, and Morningstar rates the company poorly in terms of profitability. Despite these setbacks, Sillerman has expanded CKX by acquiring other entertainment entities such as the British company behind “American Idol” and the rights to Muhammad Ali’s name and likeness.
The real challenge for CKX lies in expanding Elvis’s appeal to a new generation. Efforts have been made to increase licensed merchandise and repurpose Elvis’s music, but these primarily cater to his existing fan base. To truly succeed, CKX needs a project that ignites widespread interest in Elvis within 21st-century culture. While previous attempts like the musical “All Shook Up” did not achieve the desired impact, CKX is exploring other avenues. They aim to redevelop Graceland and the Heartbreak Hotel to appeal to a broader range of tourists beyond devoted Elvis fans. Additionally, a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil will bring an Elvis-themed show to Las Vegas in April.
As a shareholder and lifelong fan, I’m eagerly awaiting the outcome of these endeavors. There are two ways my investment in Elvis could pay off: the success of the Las Vegas show, leading to a surge in CKX’s stock value, or the eventual sale of Elvis and CKX to a larger conglomerate. No matter the result, my love for Elvis and his timeless music will never waver. After all, his legacy is the most valuable asset in his portfolio.
To stay updated on the latest Elvis news and developments, visit All about Elvis. Let’s keep the King’s spirit alive and thriving!
Article by Alan Hanson | © January 2010