Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I'm now live-blogging the UBS media conference

I'm posting live as CEO Craig Dubow and other executives make a presentation at 9 a.m. ET to Wall Street media stock analysts at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York. It's being webcast here. You'll be reading my posts in reverse chronological order.

[Updated at 1:58 p.m. ET on Dec. 12: Here are the prepared statements by Dubow and all the executives.]

9:57: And it's over! Yeah! Shares are now up 3.3% at $15.82. Corporate has now posted a news release [a second news release, providing the correct EPS range for the current quarter, which is actually 72 to 82 cents, rather than 80 cents] about the presentation. I'll be looking for text of individual executives' prepared remarks, hopefully later today.

9:53: Q. What about dividend "strategy?" In other words, might there be an increase? [It's been 4 cents a share since it was cut 90% in early 2009.] Martore says want to see more certainty in economy, but remains, as always, non-committal.

9:50: Q. What about the TV-newspaper cross-ownership rule; why hasn't industry been more aggressive in overturning rule? Dubow answering. Says, in fact, industry has been aggressive. No firm prediction on what might happen when FCC takes up issue. "We would love to see that rule changed."

9:49: Q. What about circulation and ad rate increases? Dickey says "walking through every marketplace, looking for pricing opportunities.'' Expect to see some circulation rate increases.

9:47: She's wrapping up. Later today, GCI will likely post these prepared remarks on Corporate's website. Here come the questions.

9:44: Investors like what they've heard so far. GCI has opened, and shares now trading up 2.4%. But my data may be behind the remarks.

9:41: Expects overall digital revenue growth to up up in low single digits. On earnings in the current quarter. We are comfortable at the high end of analysts' forecasts. [Added later: I believe she said the range was 72 cents to 80 82 cents.] $5.4 billion in revenue for the year. Decline in the very, very low single digits compared to 2009.

9:37: Here's Martore! Total publishing revenue is down 4%. I think that's for the current quarter. National advertising has "slipped." Classified is "lagging." That doesn't sound so great.

9:32: Expecting big growth in Asia. Worth noting now that the real meat of Gannett's presentation will come during Martore's remarks, and then during the question-and-answer session after the executives' prepared remarks.

9:29: Sounds like Ferguson of CareerBuilder is now talking; he didn't introduce himself. Yup: It's him.

9:22: Lougee's now talking. Waiting for him to make some news.

Now talking about the tests in paywalls at three Gannett papers. I didn't hear anything about financials, though.

9:14: I think he just said that in the first half of 2011, they're rolling out GannettLocal, which is now based in Phoenix.

9:12: Here's Bob Dickey. "Transformative change continues across all that we do." He says newspapers are "legacy products." Yipes: So many buzzwords!

9:08: Yahoo partnership is ahead of schedule. Hmmmm.

9:06: Introducing the new CFO. Say hello to him if you see him around.

9:05 a.m.: Dubow sounds a bit more nervous and uneven than usual.


  1. Investors loved Dubow and Co said today! Up over 4%

  2. Thanks for doing this, Jim.

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  4. Thank you, Jim.

  5. What you didn't hear at the UBS Conference today was that...

    1. Jason Tafler has resigned. He will continue to be listed on the website, Jim, until he is officially out which will be after he receives his payout in March 2011.

    2. Matt Ferguson, CEO of Careerbuilder, is LEAVING CareerBuilder and leaving the Gannett family at the end of December and moving back to Atlanta.

    3. The Ripple 6 company is being closed down at the end of this year.

    4. A MAJOR executive (someone on the podium) will be leaving early 2011 (if not sooner) and has been spotted interviewing for a senior level role at a new media company.

    5. A big re-org is being announced in the USCP division in January.

  6. Damn this gal/guy is goooood! My Boss has nailed it. I can definitely say that s/he is spot on with Matt Ferguson leaving CB at year end. S/He even knows where Mattie is moving to!

  7. 1. I've e-mailed Tafler about this, but haven't heard back. And I've written to him before on this subject, also without a response.

    4. Hunke was in the cheap seats today, no?

    5. Riddle's retirement opens up many USCP reorg possibilities.

  8. Wow, the stock has shot up this week! Go, CGI, Go!!! A very nice return go those of you who bought in mid-year.

  9. Some day I want to have a LEGACY product that brings in 20% profit.

    Hell, grocery only makes 1-2% profit, and nearly everyone needs food.

  10. Jim, why did they mention "big growth in Asia"? Are they looking to invest in digital or mobile advertising-related businesses in Asia, or more specifically, the huge China market? Not sure if they’re thinking of buying businesses in China, but there are other western outfits that have attempted in-roads there and it's been difficult going. Those that have tried have far more experience in global markets, and Gannett hasn't even shown that they can make such it work on their home turf. In addition, China currently bars foreign companies from making investments in businesses that produce or distribute entertainment or news content, which would greatly narrow their options.

    One player that has tried is News Corp. It really screwed up with its Myspace acquisition and recently dumped three TV stations it had bought in China, but the company has been making some interesting venture-type investments there, and I’m sure Gannett would like to mimic some of that. Last year News Corp hired former AOL chief executive Jonathan Miller as its digital media officer, and they have since made at least two investments in China: AdChina, which one U.S. M&A bank described as the "DoubleClick of China" and, in October, it invested in YoBrand, which is some kind of business-to-business online sales platform. Unlike in the US and Europe, Asia continues to have very strong, if diminished, economic growth. But China specifically is very complex for foreign businesses that want to make equity investments there, as foreign investors are often at numerous legal and financial disadvantages. In addition, there is tremendous demand for businesses in Asia, which has driven up the relative cost of buying businesses there, as measured by equity as a multiple of operating income. Given Gannett’s apparent track record in digital investments, I think it would be very hard for them to achieve much in Asia, where they have no home advantage -- if this is in fact what they’re considering.

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