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Weekly Media Stocks Roundup: Flat Despite a Whole Mess of Earnings

wall_street_cover03262010.jpgWhat a high-energy week! … Or was it? Serious earnings action governed the media sphere, but the flood of quarterly reports registered as largely so-so for investors. The broader market likewise stayed flat; over the past five days, the S&P 500 dropped less than 1% to 1101.

There was more than just earnings news to digest. Drama continued to swirl over The Washington Post Co. (WPO)’s ongoing efforts to sell its troubled magazine Newsweek. Reports from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times indicated that Post Co. was feeling skittish about offloading Newsweek to prospective buyer Avenue Capital because of the hedge fund’s proposal to partner with National Enquirer publisher American Media for back-end operations. Billionaire electronics tycoon Sidney Harman emerged as the favorite to eventually buy Newsweek.

In other Post Co. news, the company’s online subsidiary The Slate Group shuttered its Big Money finance website, saying the property’s business prospects had failed to improve as fast as necessary. Post Co. shares added 1.2% to $420.49.

Tensions appeared to rise between Time Inc. and Apple as the iPad maker stymied Time Inc.’s efforts to sell tablet subscriptions in the iTunes store. The company did put business periodical Fortune on the iPad this week, though, so there’s that, at least. Time Inc. parent Time Warner also this week announced a quarterly common-stock dividend of 21.25 cents a share, payable in cash on Sept. 15 to shareholders of record on August 31. Shares ended the week up less than 1% at $31.46.

News Corp. (NWS) shares slipped 1.5% as analysts at Credit Suisse lowered earnings estimates for Rupert Murdoch’s media giant, predicting that the company’s attempts to buy British cable operator BSkyB would reduce the chances of share buybacks going forward. The company also looked into developing a business unit that would create content specifically for tablets.

And now, the earnings! Weekly stock results for Meredith Corp., Thomson Reuters and more after the jump.


Consumer-mag publisher Meredith Corp. (MDP) reported that it swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter profit from a loss a year ago. Shares rose 1.9% to $31.75.

Also reporting earnings was Reuters parent and information-services behemoth Thomson Reuters (TRI). The company announced that its second-quarter profit was down 17% from a year ago at $655 million, and revenue had fallen slightly to $3.22 billion. The stock lost less than 1% to $37.44.

USA Today publisher Gannett (GCI), meanwhile, followed up on last week’s Barrington Research upgrade on its stock with a Moody’s upgrade of its speculative-grade liquidity. The company also declared a dividend of 4 cents a share, payable on Oct. 1 to shareholders of record as of Sept. 10. Shares dropped 6.3% to $13.18.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) took a 9.7% pounding this week as it reported a narrowed second-quarter operating loss and said that its publishing business was stabilizing and that its Internet segment was growing. The stock finished at $5.05.

Shares IAC (IACI), Barry Diller‘s diversified Internet media company, rose 4.2% on the week to end at $25 even. IAC said second-quarter net income rose to $27.5 million from $3.3 million a year ago, while revenue shot up fivefold to $23.7 million over the same interval.

Finally, TheStreet.com (TSCM) inked a partnership with Newsweek, the terms of which allow each online property to show content from the other outlet, and TheStreet.com’s output to appear in the magazine’s print edition. TheStreet.com’s shares jumped 7% to $3.06. (Disclosure: Your editor used to work for TheStreet.com.)

More media stock results:

A. H. Belo (AHC): Up 7.4% at $7.74

AOL (AOL): Down less than 1% at $20.92

The New York Times Co. (NYT): Down 5.5% at $8.74

Playboy (PLA): Down one cent at $5.41

Outside the sphere of publicly traded companies, financial-news site Business Insider raised around $3 million in financing from RRE Ventures.

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