The Future of Print

Transforming American Newspapers Part 1. Rebuilding Media: The fate of media

Posted in Uncategorized by futureofprint on August 27, 2009

Last month, Goldman Sachs equity analyst Peter Appert put it more bluntly in a Reuters in a story about the dwindling number of equity analysts who still covering the deterioration of this $40 billion industry:

“If I covered only the newspaper industry, first of all I would have been fired a long time ago; secondly, I would have had to kill myself.”

Among the largest American newspaper companies, the losses of equity have been titanic. On the August day in when I write this, stock in the Journal Register Company is trading for less than four pennies per share, down from $3.25 a year ago, a loss of 99 percent. Any of the buildings housing any of its 22 daily newspapers is worth more than the company’s current stock market capitalization currently $1.4 million. Journal Register reports that it has $77 million in assets, $719 million in liabilities, and lost $102 million last year. Standard & Poor’s, which downgraded its rating of Journal Register’s stock to junk, has now withdrawn any rating of it. Meanwhile, stock in Gatehouse Media, which publishes 97 dailies, is trading at 57 pennies per share, down from $22.00 two years ago, a 97 percent loss. That company faces delisting by the New York Stock Exchange and the equity research firm Morningstar this week declared its stock to be essentially worthless, valuing the fair price as zero.

Meanwhile, stock in the McClatchy Company, which publishers 30 dailies, has dropped from $74.30 three years ago to $3.78, a 95 percent loss. Stock in Lee Enterprises, which publishes 51 dailies, has dropped from $48.57 to $3.83, a 92 percent loss during the past four years. Media General, which publishes 25 dailies, has seen its stock price drop 83 percent in the past four years. Stock of The New York Times Company, which publishes 17 dailies, has dropped 75 percent during the past six years, from $51.50 to $12.98. Stock in Gannett Company, which publishes 85 dailies, has dropped 65 percent, from $90.14 to $17.40, during the past four years. Despite these results, Morningstar still calls newspapers, “the market’s most overvalued stocks,” according to the newspaper industry trade journal, Editor & Publisher.

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