Archive for August, 2007

Gannett stock: It happened this week

August 31, 2007

Click on this chart to make it bigger. A week that brought some relief to investors overall did little for holders of GCI: Shares (blue line) fell about 5% vs. a mostly flat performance for the broader S&P 500 Index (red). GCI closed today at $47 a share, near its low for the week, as a newspaper trade group reported tough advertising revenue news for the industry overall.

Revenue at newspapers fell 8.6% in the second quarter, as an accelerating decline in print ads more than outweighed gains online, the Newspaper Association of America said. The AP has a story here.

Alan Mutter, blogging on the year’s first-half performance at Reflections of a Newsosaur, points to the real estate crash as a big factor — and says things are likely to get worse. “Remember that the sub-prime mortgage meltdown occurred after the period covered by these numbers,” he says. “With the real estate market all but paralyzed, the year-to-date declines are almost certain to be equaled — or surpassed — for the balance of 2007, if not beyond.”

Advertisements

Monthly stats: USA Today in steep slide

August 20, 2007

Gannett’s flagship saw advertising revenue fall 15.9% last month, returning to the grim trend that had only been interrupted in June. Across the company, July’s ad revenue results showed almost no improvement, today’s monthly statistical report shows. The chart on the left shows the change in newspaper advertising revenue from the year-ago period, based on GCI’s monthly statistical reports. As always, I’m breaking out USA Today‘s figures because it’s the only paper for which GCI gives specific data.

Dubow: No deal in the works

August 10, 2007

Responding to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal report, CEO Craig Dubow is telling employees that GCI is not for sale, according to this Reuters story, and another moved by the Associated Press. “None of the bloggers called and checked with us before speculating that we were preparing for a sale,” Dubow wrote in a memo obtained by Reuters. “We are not.”

Dubow elaborated in the AP story: “What we were doing is making routine amendments to our bylaws and compensation plans,” he said. “Many of these revisions were mandated by newly adopted IRS rules about deferred compensation.”

My take: Gannett may already be in play as investors register disappointment over Dubow’s statement; it quashed their hopes of big stock gains if the company was sold at a premium. GCI volume jumped today and shares traded as low as $43.79 — a new 52-week low. Gannett shares are now trading at 1997 levels!

I don’t have the Dubow memo cited in some of today’s stories. But none of these reports quote Dubow saying “never, ever” going to happen. Indeed, should a deal be announced days, weeks or months from now, Dubow — or his successor — would likely say: Back on Aug. 10, we were telling the truth; there was no deal in the works at the time. He’ll then go on to say that, since then, market conditions have changed, new opportunities arose, etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

Breaking: WSJ blog reports move toward sale

August 9, 2007

In a blockbuster — if true — the Wall Street Journal‘s Deal Journal blog is reporting the company “amended several of its employee compensation plans with an eye toward a possible acquisition of the company.” The post continues:

“As the filing details, in the event of a change in control of the company, certain deferred compensation payments would be accelerated. The amendments also would prevent retirement-plan changes brought on by any merger deal that would reduce benefits to employees.

“The filing says, ‘The plans and agreements were also amended, among other things, to clarify the definition of change in control by specifying the ownership level at which employees would not be deemed to be participating in a management buyout.’ Emphasis added because that makes Deal Journal wonder whether a possible management buyout of the company is in the cards.

“Gannett stock has fallen 23% this year, giving it a market cap of $11 billion, so it could be seen by some as a bargain. (In fact, the stock is trading near a 10-year low, according to this posting from footnoted.org, which earlier spotted the new language.)”