A.H. Belo Hits New Post-Split Low On Bad Day For Newspaper Stocks

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Stock in A.H. Belo, the four-month-old newspaper pure-play split off from Belo Corp., hit a new low Thursday on a day when Wall Street continued bearish on nearly the entire newspaper sector.

Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI) hit a 52-week low with its close of $23.67, off 75 cents, or 3.07%. It had traded in a range of $23.81 to $56.36.

Investors may have been reacting to a sour assessment of newspaper stocks from Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert, who wrote that the industry has set new records in 2008 — all of them bad, including three consecutive years of ad revenue declines. Appert reaffirmed his rating of the newspaper sector as “underweight.”

Even a report that there are multiple bidders for troubled Journal Register Co. did nothing to lift the trouble community paper publisher’s stock. On low volume and with the over-the-counter market ticker running slowly, Journal Register (OTC: JRCO.PK) was trading at 20 cents two hours before the close, down 2 cents or 9% from its open.

A.H. Belo (NYSE: AHC) closed at $7.01, down 47 cents, or 6.28%. Its previous low had been $7.29 since opening as a public company on Feb. 11 with an initial price of $16.35.

The McClatchy Co. (NYSE: MNI) was also among the bigger percentage loser. It closed at $7.56, down 29 cents, or 3.69%.

After being hammered down more than 7% Wednesday, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publisher Journal Communications (NYSE: JRN) rebounded very slightly Thursday, ending on the positive side with a close of $5.38, a gain of 2 cents, or 0.37%.

The biggest percentage gainer on the day was thinly traded American Community Newspapers (AMEX: ANE), whose stock has languished in penny territory for months. American Community closed at 28 cents, up 6 cents, or 27.2%.

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