Rupert's Offer Chops Dow Jones' Quarter

I suppose even companies mired in the middle of deal frenzy must stop occasionally and tell the world about their operating results. Dow Jones (NYSE: DJ  ) did that on Thursday, reporting second-quarter earnings that were down -- or up, depending on your perspective.

As you know, the powers that be at Dow Jones are sorting through a $60-per share offer for their company from press titan Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) . It turns out that that offer, which was rendered in May and resulted in an almost instantaneous 55% jump in the trading value of Dow Jones shares, had a less-than-salutary effect on the company's June quarter results. And as luck would have it, it also may not be to the benefit of one of the company's directors.

On a purely reported basis, the company earned $21.0 million, or $0.25 a share, in the quarter. That's down from $28.8 million, or $0.34 a share, a year ago. But it also reflects $0.20 per share in reductions from special items, including $0.13 for incremental stock-based compensation expense that was tied to the share price jump when Rupert's offer was unleashed. The other $0.07 was related to a restructuring charge, following an announced reorganization in the consumer media segment. In the year-ago quarter, Dow Jones recorded special items netting a loss of a nickel, primarily for a restructuring charge.

It's important for you to know that, in a quarter that contained some solid operating results for the company, its Wall Street Journal recorded a 6.8% slide in advertising revenues from its U.S. print addition on an 11.4% drop in advertising volume. The Journal, then, clearly is not immune to the slide in advertising revenues being felt by such general circulation publishers as Gannett (NYSE: GCI  ) , Tribune (NYSE: TRB  ) , and McClatchy (NYSE: MNI  ) . And it's in part for that reason that I'm enthusiastic about Murdoch's offer. I simply believe he would contribute resources to the company that would help it to weather a lengthy advertising slide.

But my opinion clearly isn't unanimous. On Thursday -- days after Dow Jones directors voted to endorse Murdoch's offer -- German director Dieter von Holtzbrinck said nein to the board's action and tendered his resignation to the group. And in other Dow Jones director-related intrigue, it appears that director David Li, a Hong Kong banker (not to be confused with yours truly or singer David Lee Roth), is apparently facing an insider trading investigation involving Murdoch's offer.

Dow Jones continues to be as much a maker as a gatherer of news. There's no reason to believe that the coming weekend will result in any slowdown in that trend. There's also no reason for Fools to weigh in financially to current events at the company. Assuming Murdoch does come away with a Dow Jones acquisition, however, his News Corp. could be worth some scrutiny.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith awaits the next bit of news to blast forth from Dow Jones. He doesn't own any of the companies mentioned, and welcomes your comments or questions. The Motley Fool has a very readable disclosure policy.


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