Wall St. Beats Up On Media General, Journal Register

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Given its first chance to react on the trading floor to Media General’s warning late last week that its first-quarter loss will be bigger than expected, Wall Street hammered the stock down 9.84%.

Media General (NYSE: MEG), which briefly touched $16 a share in the opening minutes of trading, fell as far as $13.89 before ending the day at $14.39, down $1.57.

Generally, though, Monday was a good day on the Street for the newspaper sectors. The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) ended the day at $20.39, up 86 cents, or 4.41%. The Times Co. avoided a proxy fight by settling with Harbinger Capital Partners and another investment firm. Harbinger is in the midst of what has become a heated proxy battle with Media General.

Community newspaper publisher GateHouse Media Inc. (NYSE: GHS) traded up on the day, ending at $6.44, adding 33 cents, or 5.4%, to its price.

Investors reacted harshly to guidance Media General issued after markets closed Thursday. (There was no trading on the Good Friday holiday.) Media General said it expected to report a Q1 loss in the range of 40 cents to 45 cents per share, well above analysts consensus of a 13-cent per-share loss.

Media General said advertising losses at its Tampa (Fla.) Tribune property was dragging down the Richmond, Va.-publisher and TV station operator.

Monday’s biggest percentage loser on Wall Street was Journal Register Co. (NYSE: JRC), which closed at 58 cents a share, down 13 cents, or 18.31%. There were no announcements or reports issued on Journal Register Monday.

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