If you're going to be a real value investor, you'll have to look into some pretty dusty corners and consider some businesses that are pretty stinky -- sometimes literally. That's just the way it goes. The key, though, is to spot the point where the business has actually bottomed out and/or the Street has priced the stock for abject failure.
While newspaper and broadcast concern Tribune
With this quarter's results, you can see why. Operating revenue was down 5%, with a modest decline in publishing being compounded by an even worse result in broadcasting. And while cash operating expenses were reported as rising only 2% on a companywide basis, the operating profit fell 27% -- and if you add back charges/gains, it's still about a 20% drop.
We've already heard this story to some extent from the likes of Milwaukee's JournalCommunications
Where things get a little different is with the stock. Knight Ridder stock has jumped as a result of takeover hopes, but Tribune continues to hang out near new lows. As you might imagine, concerns abound. Can the company tighten up expenses faster than revenue falls? How will the company handle the transition from The WB network to The CW? Will it win an appeal of an adverse tax ruling?
There are lots and lots of questions here, and no immediate or easy answers. Yes, the stock trades at a historically low level, as well as at a low level relative to other newspapers. But now the question is whether Wall Street has gotten a little too rambunctious in hating Tribune. After all, by the time most of Wall Street agrees that something is true, it's usually no longer true. So maybe there's still hope for Tribune after all.
For more takes on the Fourth Estate:
- Black and White and Red All Over
- Knight Ridder Stays Out of the Obituaries
- Reading Between Tribune's Lines
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).