Friday, November 21, 2008

The Sky Is Falling, The Sky Is Falling. Whoops, It Already Fell

Chicken Little Already On a Skewer; Looking For A Bottom for Newspaper Stocks? Join the Club. The Situation is Shrek Ugly

As I write, stocks are inching higher, as a few bargain hunters tip-toe through the markets while Citigroup tries to figure out its next move -- merger, sale or none of the above.
Some newspaper stocks, like Gannett, are benefiting, but others, like The New York Times, continue heading ever closer to the crapper. Of course, it didn't help when the Times announced yesterday it would take a meat grinder to its dividend.
You knew things were bad, but until you look at a chart of newspaper stocks, you may not have realized how stinkin' awful the balance sheets are, and how little Wall Street thinks of newspapers as a viable business model.
Belo is just north of two bucks a share. McClatchy is wheezing to oblivion at $1.51, while Lee clocks in at $1.25 or so.
Things could be worse, though, if you held stock in GateHouse Media, lightly traded on the pink sheets at 7 cents, or Journal-Register, which a few masochists are trading for just over a penny. The entire market cap for the company is about $472,000. Somehow, no one's rushing to snap up shares.
And with 2009 showing every sign of being worse than this year, it's a safe bet the list of newspaper stocks will soon be shorter, not because the companies have been delisted, but because they've ceased to exist.

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