Newspaper Stocks Bounce Back Big

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

A day after Wall Street beat down newspaper stocks — sinking several to yearly bottoms, and The McClatchy Co. to an all-time low — the sector rebounded sharply Thursday.

McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) was the biggest gainer on the day, closing at $9.48, up $1.18 (or 14.22%). On Wednesday, investors bid McClatchy down to a historic low of $8.32 after the publisher of The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee reported its first-quarter revenue tumbled 13.8% on poor advertising performance, including a 35% plunge in real estate classified.

McClatchy stock is down about 90% from its high, and some financial blogs have been talking it up as a bargain with a big upside.

Traders were also feeling better about the national credit crunch Thursday, with financial stocks jumping, and a strong dollar pushing down such commodities as oil. Some newspaper companies are highly leveraged, and the prospect of cheaper credit returning makes their stock more attractive.

Gannett Co. (NYSE: GCI) benefited from Wall Street’s sunny mood, rebounding to $27.93, up $2.07, or 8% — a day after investors pushed it to a new 52-week low.

Media General Inc. (NYSE: MEG) lost a proxy battle at its annual meeting Thursday, as a big majority of shares were voted for three representatives of the dissident shareholder group Harbinger Capital Partners. But its stock was a winner on the day, closing at $13.92, up 52 cents, or 3.88%.

Like Media General, A.H. Belo (NYSE: AHC) sank to a new 52-low on Wednesday, but Thursday it rebounded modestly, gaining 5 cents, or 0.52% to close at $9.74.

Lee Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: LEE) also rose from a price that matched its 52-week low. It closed trading Thursday at $7.42, up 16 cents, or 1.04%.

Of the 14 stocks that E&P monitors, all rose on Thursday except GateHouse Media (GHS), which closed off 5 cents, or 1.04%, at $4.74.

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