TOUGH WEEK FOR NEWSPAPER STOCKS.
While Wednesday's finalized merger and spinoff of Journal Communications Inc. and The E.W. Scripps Co., can't be blamed for the overall depression of the stock market, their losses did weigh heavily on shares in newspaper-related publicly traded businesses.
When-issued trading in the new Journal Media Group Inc. of Milwaukee started on March 23 under the New York Stock Exchange symbol JMG at $12. Limited trading that day closed down 14.6 percent, to $10.25. The share price see-sawed between $10.11 and $10.34 over the next five trading days and then plunged 14.7 percent the day before the spinoff became final, closing at $8.74.
With only four days of trading last week (closed for Good Friday and the start of Passover), shares rallied six cents on Wednesday but plunged another 10.1 percent in Thursday trading, closing at $7.91. (Shares came back again in today's trading, surging 5.2 percent and closing at $8.32.)
Scripps of Cincinnati -- which is now an all-broadcasting business -- also saw a tough week; share price declined 6.6 percent from Monday to Thursday, closing at $25.41. Among the other publishers seeing declines, A.H. Belo Corp. of Dallas saw shares go down one percent, to $8.27, and Tribune Publishing Co. of Chicago was down fractionally for the week, at $19.34 on Thursday.
Publishers with increased share price for the week included Gannett Co. Inc., Lee Enterprises Inc., The McClatchy Co., New Media Investment Group Inc. and the New York Times Co., who together averaged a 2-1/2-percent gain for the week.
Last Tuesday Zacks Equity Research of Chicago released a report on New Media Investment, giving it a "buy" rating and saying it will outperform not only its peers but also the market in general. On Friday Zacks said that first-quarter earnings estimates amongst analysts have shifted from a 13-cent-per-share loss to a loss of three-cents per share.
This morning the research firm FBR Capital of Arlington, Va., downgraded Gannett from "outperform" to "market perform." The company set Gannett's target share price at $38; it closed this afternoon at $35.53, down almost five percent from Friday.
The NewsInc. Index will hobble along for the next 12 weeks waiting to get a full quarter of trades under JMG's belt before it gets rolled into our little chart.