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Financial maneuvers bring McClatchy share price back up

McClatchy_logo-160x94Typically, having a stock trading at $1.26 a share is not cause for celebration. But when McClatchy stock closed at that level today, it represented a gain of 23.5 percent in the last three trading days.

McClatchy was threatened two weeks ago with delisting on the New York Stock Exchange.  The company responded with two moves that appear to have boosted investor confidence:

  • It authorized a repurchase of up to $15 million of its regularly traded shares (there is a second class of stock controlled by family members that is not affected.)
  • It paid down debt by $22.9 million, further chipping away at the large interest expense that has dragged down earnings for years.

Buying back shares is a slightly arcane practice, essentially a bet by the company that its stock is undervalued.  Read more


McClatchy reports precipitous print ad declines again for second quarter

McClatchy, in the doghouse with investors for most of the year, reported another disappointing quarter today, eking out a profit of $98,000 on $262 million in revenues.

Despite growing digital ad revenues, holding circulation revenues even and reducing debt and interest payments compared to the same quarter a year ago, the results were dragged down by a 12.5 percent decline in total advertising revenues.

McClatchy is first among the public newspapers to report for the second quarter so drops of nearly the same magnitude seem likely at other companies.  As Gannett (which will report Wednesday) indicated as it spun off to a separate newspaper company a month ago, second quarter ad revenues have been weak there as well.

McClatchy said print advertising declines for the quarter were 16.3 percent. Read more


McClatchy’s stock continues to take a pummeling

McClatchy_logoMcClatchy reported a first quarter net operating loss of $11.3 million and more deep declines in print advertising today as its stock continues to takes a pummeling.

McClatchy shares have been trading between $1.50 and $1.60 the last several days. That is about half where they were at the start of 2015, and they have lost roughly three-quarters since this time a year ago.

Wall Street values the company at a market capitalization of $135 million,  That’s less than $5 million per paper in a collection of 29 titles in 28 cities including the Miami Herald, Kansas City Star and Charlotte Observer. (See clarification below.)

Continuing the trend of recent earning reports, print advertising was the problem spot, down 15.7 percent year-to-year with national advertising especially bad, off 25 percent. Read more

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Gyllenhaal: McClatchy reimagines its publishing process

For the past six months, staffers across The McClatchy Company have spent hundreds of hours talking with readers in ways we’ve never done before.

Robin Johnston, design director with the McClatchy Publishing Center, interviews reader Nathaniel Sanders in Raleigh last November. (Photo courtesy of McClatchy Publishing)

Robin Johnston, design director with the McClatchy Publishing Center, interviews reader Nathaniel Sanders in Raleigh last November. (Photo by Joan Barnett Lee/McClatchy)

We’ve asked them to dissect their news habits for us, watched how they viewed videos, probed why they quit a story, read to the end or shared it with others.

In more than a century and a half of publishing, McClatchy, like our peers, has devoted millions of dollars to understanding our print and digital audiences with such standard tools as annual readership surveys and tracking metrics.

And yet, when the company last year began a fresh look at where we’re headed, we concluded that too many of our presumptions were outstripped by the dramatic media shifts of the past few years. Read more

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5 Ways McClatchy is a model for a new breed of stand-alone newspaper companies

McClatchy has been a steady presence in the 15 years I’ve been writing about media business with a commitment to serious journalism even while shrinking newsrooms, aggressive digital expansion and continuity of leadership.

Looking at the company’s fourth quarter results Wednesday and listening to CEO Pat Talamantes describe 2015 plans, it occurred to me that McClatchy could now also be a bell-cow for the new generation of spun-off, newspaper only companies.  That group includes Tribune Publishing, early into life on its own after a split from parent Tribune late last year. Later in 2015 Gannett’s publishing division and the merged publishing operations of Journal Communications and Scripps will go that route too.

Here are five ways, McClatchy may be providing a preview:

  1. Revenue replacement race: Like other companies reporting in recent weeks, McClatchy had even worse print advertising results than expected, could not make them up with other mostly digital ventures and thus continues to shrink. 
Read more

Major news organizations to reveal new freelancer safety guidelines

Freelance journalist James Foley in 2011.  Photograph by Jonathan Pedneault

Freelance journalist James Foley in 2011. Photograph by Jonathan Pedneault

A coalition of prominent news outlets and journalism advocacy groups Thursday will release a set of guidelines at Columbia Journalism School for the protection of freelancers.

The recommendations, which will have the support of several prominent wire service organizations including The Associated Press and the Agence France-Presse, set forth best practices for both freelancers and the news organizations that employ them.

The new directives come amid a perilous time for freelance journalists, said Robert Mahoney, deputy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists. Widespread access to publishing tools has enabled terrorists to spread their messages widely without media organizations, making journalists more valuable to these groups as gruesome spectacles than bearers of witness. And financial setbacks have prompted many news organizations to shutter their foreign bureaus, leaving freelancers to pick up the slack in dangerous regions. Read more


Capital flows like water to media companies (of a certain kind)

December has started with a bang-up ten days financially for some leading American media companies.

Vox announced it has raised another $46.5 million in a new round of venture capital bringing its total valuation to $385 million. CEO Jim Bankoff, in a internal memo he made public, announced ambitious expansion plans for 2015.

Outbrain, a content recommendation/native advertising company, indicated it is tentatively planing an initial public offering early next year, with a target valuation of $1 billion.  (Outbrain, like its biggest competitor Taboola, is Israeli in origin but has moved headquarters to New York and plans to be listed on NASDAQ).

Meanwhile expanding Buzzfeed’s growth continues and its investor valuation stands at $850 million.  Editor Ben Smith was lecturing in Australia late last week as the site announced it has hired a star from Wired to be its Silicon Valley bureau chief and is forming a health and science desk. Read more


A look at 5 successful news partnerships

The Pew Research Center is out today with a new report seeking to define what differentiates effective and sustainable news partnerships from the many that launch with a splash and later quietly fizzle.

At Poynter Online, we regularly report on Pew’s prolific series of studies on digital behavior and news industry trends. There is a twist concerning this particular report, however. In collaboration with Pew Research editors, I wrote it.

So this post is mainly to say, if you are intrigued by the topic, take a look.

partner-site-300Our particular focus was to look at five case studies of collaborations that worked and had staying power. Each was, one way or another, many years in the making.

We were searching for business models and an X factor or two that can be of use as experiments in news partnering enjoy a resurgence. Read more


N.Y. tabs met in secret lovenest

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories, then let’s get to the weekend.

  1. A New York Post/New York Daily News collaboration? Joe Pompeo reports the rival papers had unsuccessful discussions about “a number of potential business deals that would have made unlikely bedfellows of enemy combatants.” “Many deal points were on the table,” a source tells him. Another source tells Pompeo talks about a digital-only Daily News are “not about if, they’re about when.” (Capital)
  2. Earnings: Broadcast ad revenues way up, print ad revenues down nearly 8 percent at Meredith. (MediaPost) | McClatchy had “a rocky third quarter,” plus what it called “important events that have sealed our financial flexibility” — some substantial assets sales. “An unfriendly commentator might describe those ‘events’ as a yard sale,” Rick Edmonds writes.
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Tough times at McClatchy — A quarterly loss and four assets sold

McClatchy closed the books today on a rocky third quarter with an earnings report yesterday showing a small loss of $2.6 million (1 percent on revenues of $277.6 million).

But CEO Pat Talimantes and Gold Ira Comparison instead opened the conference call with analysts offering commentary on a much bigger issue, what he described as “important events that have sealed our financial flexibility.”

An unfriendly commentator might describe those “events” as a yard sale. So far in 2014, McClatchy has sold four separate and substantial assets. The largest of them, in a deal with Gannett closed the first week in October, was a 25.6 percent stake in Classified Ventures’, which will bring in $631.8 million before taxes, $406 million after.

Earlier this year McClatchy sold its stake in (another part of Classified Ventures)  It also sold its half of McClatchy/Tribune Information Services to Tribune and the Alaska Daily News to wealthy investor Alice RogoffRead more

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