Just when you thought all publishing-based companies were doomed to report steadily sagging results, along comes Dow Jones
Of course, there was the sale of six community newspapers from the company's Ottaway group, proceeds from which were primarily used to fund the purchase during the quarter of the half of the Factiva news database business owned by Reuters
Excluding the gain from the sale of the newspapers and another investment; a tax gain; and a restructuring charge, the company earned $39.9 million, or $0.47 per share, in the quarter, compared to $34.4 million, or $0.41 per share, a year ago.
Of the company's three divisions, the Consumer Media Group, which includes The Wall Street Journal and Barron's along with the MarketWatch franchise, was responsible for $309.4 million, or 64% of the company's $485.4 million total sales for the quarter. The Enterprise Media Group -- including the Dow Jones news wires, the company's indexes, and its financial information services -- added another $113.2 million, and the Local Media Group (read: Ottaway Newspapers) weighed in with the final $63.2 million.
From an operating perspective, the company's progress was impressive, particularly when compared to the results generally being reported by general-circulation publishers like New York Times
In conducting the company's operations, management is decidedly thinking long-term. "While posting these solid short-term results," said CEO Rich Zannino during the company's call following the release of the quarterly results, "we also kept working to create sustainable long-term growth. Our long-term strategy is straightforward. We want to transform Dow Jones from a company heavily dependent on print revenue to a more diversified content-driven company meeting the needs of its customers across all consumer and enterprise media channels." This long-term orientation will cause the company to cease providing quarterly guidance, beginning this year, in favor of issuing only an annual look ahead.
In any event, Dow Jones appears to be progressing appropriately in realizing management's stated goals. Its flagship Wall Street Journal received a face-lift worthy of Phyllis Diller with the first issue of this year. It's now somewhat smaller and, to my thinking, more readable. And the sale of the Ottaway newspapers occurred, as Zannino noted on the call, at 11 times EBITDA, and funded the four-times-EBITDA Factiva acquisition.
So my opinion of Dow Jones is really quite high. However, I would urge Fools to watch the company without leaping into an investment in its shares, as its achievements appear to be reflected in the $38.92 Thursday closing share price.
For related Foolishness:
- Fool on the Street: How Now, Dow Jones?
- Media M&A: Partying Like It Was 2000
- Slow News Day at Dow Jones
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Fool contributor David Lee Smith, an admitted fan of The Wall Street Journal, does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Fool's disclosure policy means no harm to Phyllis Diller.