You've read recently that Chicago's Tribune Company, which a year ago was privatized by real estate magnate Sam Zell with the aid of an employee stock ownership plan, has filed for bankruptcy protection. No surprise there. I told Fools when the deal was being done that you can't logically layer $13 billion in debt atop an atrophying industry and expect solid results.
And then there's the vaunted New York Times
So much for the media space, you say. But my response is that you just might be carrying things a bit too far. I remain convinced that one or two members of the cable subsector deserve your attention in this topsy-turvy market. My favorites continue to be Comcast
Oh sure, there could be a slowdown in the growth of the industry's premium video services, but notice I'm saying a slowdown in growth, not a pullback. At the same time, while newspaper revenues continue to slide like kiddies on a playground, Comcast's year-over-year ARPU (average revenue per unit) grew by 8.8% in the third quarter.
And while there's also the possibility that increased dependence by telephony customers on their mobile units will slow expansion of that part of the triple-play offering, the company envisions solid prospects for replacing the telcos as servers of smaller businesses. Ditto high-speed data, where Comcast in particular is steadily adding speed to its offerings. Then there's the notion that in times of economic recession, folks are more likely to stay home in front of the proverbial tube than to hit the shopping or restaurant trails.
None of this is to call forth the notion that Comcast is the next great bottle rocket. But media as a whole has been pretty well shunted aside during the past couple of years. I'm here to argue to my Foolish friends that at least one company in the group packs some downside protection and shouldn't be tossed aside like the proverbial daily fish wrapper.
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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned above. He does welcome your questions, comments, or kibitzing. The Fool has a disclosure policy that's read 'round the world.