By: Mark Fitzgerald
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has halted floor trading of GateHouse Media Inc. because its shares have sold for less than $1.05, a spokesman for the Big Board’s enforcement authority confirmed Thursday.
Shares of GateHouse (NYSE: GHS) continue to be traded on electronic markets, including the Big Board’s sibling NYSE Arca. GateHouse closed at 4 p.m. EDT at $1.00, up 3 cents, or 3.09%.
NYSE Regulation spokesman Scott Peterson said trading of GateHouse (NYSE: GHS) was put under an “operational trading halt” on Tuesday morning. To return to floor trading, a stock must trade above $1.10 a share for an entire trading day.
If the stock continues to close below $1 a share on average over a consecutive 30 trading day period, it is notified that it could be de-listed unless it is able to bring its share price above $1 within six months.
GateHouse shares, which in the past 52 weeks have traded as high as $19.00, have been driven down steeply in recent months as Wall Street began to doubt the Fairport, N.Y.-based publisher’s strategy of funding aggressive expansion with big debt while paying out a substantial dividend.
Earlier this week Morningstar issued a scathing reporting on GateHouse in which analyst Tom Corbett declared that its stock “could be worthless.” He lowered the firm’s fair value estimate of shares to zero from $3.
GateHouse is the third newspaper company that has been barred from Big Board floor trading this year.
In February, the exchange halted floor trading for Sun-Times Media Group, and in March it took the same action against Journal Register Co.
Both were later de-listed and now trade in the Over-The-Counter Markets.