News Corp.'s News Assets Could Be Turning A Corner
Alpha Gen Capital
Alpha Gen Capital
Fri, Oct. 21, 1:14 PM
- A day after reports showed a substantial revamp coming to The Wall Street Journal (NWS -0.4%, NWSA -0.6%) as part of a cost-cutting review, Reuters reports a memo from Editor in Chief Gerard Baker is offering buyouts to all news employees, with a goal of a "substantial" number taking them.
- Dow Jones' "WSJ2020" plan was set to rebalance revenue streams and focus on the newsroom, ad sales and overall efficiency improvements. But in particular, the newspaper was set to consolidate sections and was likely to reduce headcount.
- Offering buyouts to everyone suggests the company is seeking deep cost cuts in news.
- "We are seeking a substantial number of employees to elect this benefit, but we reserve the right to reject a volunteer based on business considerations," Baker's memo says.
Wed, Oct. 19, 7:22 PM
- Dow Jones (NWS +0.7%, NWSA +1%) says it's planning a substantial revamp at The Wall Street Journal as part of a review to better address costs, amid an ongoing decline in print advertising.
- The "WSJ2020" plan will look to rebalance the news organization's revenue streams as its customers flock to digital formats, and a revised version of the print newspaper will launch in the next few weeks with some sections consolidated.
- “The new product will be a livelier, sharper and more concise newspaper that is an engaging counterpart to our digitally delivered news,” says a memo from Editor in Chief Gerard Baker. “It will also present a more coherent organization of our coverage in print, and will involve some consolidation of sections of the paper and the teams that produce it.”
- That likely means headcount reductions as well. A memo from Dow Jones CEO William Lewis says WSJ2020 will focus on three area: the newsroom, ad sales, and areas to improve efficiency.
Wed, Oct. 12, 4:50 PM
- In its definitive proxy statement filed ahead of its annual general meeting, News Corp. (NWS -1.8%, NWSA -1.5%) noted total compensation for Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch rose modestly, about 5.5%, to $5.34M.
- That follows on last year's decline, to total compensation of $5.07M from 2014's $8.7M.
- Murdoch's base salary got a $19K bump (to $1,019,231), while stock awards rose to $2.19M and non-equity incentive compensation rose to $2.133M.
- CEO Robert Thomson got a bigger raise, to $11.34M from 2015's $10.29M (up 10.1%). Chief Financial Officer Bedi Ajay Singh saw total comp rise to $4.96M from $4.64M. Andj General Counsel David B. Pitofsky's total comp rose to $2.72M from a previous $2.05M.
- The company is set for its annual meeting Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. ET, in Los Angeles.
- After hours: NWS +1.8%, NWSA +1.5%.
Wed, Sep. 21, 2:13 PM
- Raju Narisetti is departing a role as senior VP of strategy for News Corp. (NWS +0.9%, NWSA +0.8%) to take over as CEO at the remnant Gawker Media Group.
- The company -- which holds all of the former Gawker sites except for Gawker.com, and which was acquired out of bankruptcy by Univision (Pending:UVN) last month -- will be renamed "Gizmodo Media Group," now named after the network's lead tech blog.
- In a statement, Narisetti says: "As part of Univision, we will now be more ambitious in deepening, broadening and sensibly scaling the passionate digital communities ... by offering accurate, responsible, edgy and engaging journalism, as well as through relevant, related content and commerce."
- The new Gizmodo Media Group consists of Gizmodo, Deadspin, Jezebel, Jalopnik, Kotaku and Lifehacker.
Mon, Sep. 12, 7:58 AM
Mon, Aug. 8, 5:26 PM
- News Corp. (NWS, NWSA) saw mixed results in its fiscal Q4 earnings, with revenues making a surprising gain and beat, but profits missing on a per-share basis.
- Comps were affected by the quarter including 14 weeks vs. last year's 13 weeks. HarperCollins showed an upturn, and the company pointed to fast growth in its digital real estate services (including Realtor.com growth).
- Revenue by segment: News and Information Services, $1.42B (up 1%); Book Publishing, $433M (up 11%); Digital Real Estate Services, $229M (up 21%); Cable Network Programming, $147M (up 11%).
- EBITDA gained in all segments except News and Information Services, where it fell 5%.
- Digital revenues continue to take up space, making up 23% of revenues in the News and Information Services segment vs. a year-ago 19%. The Wall Street Journal hit 948,000 digital-only subscribers in the quarter; The Times and The Sunday Times neared 182,500 digital-only subs.
- Press release
Mon, Aug. 8, 4:47 PM
Thu, Jun. 30, 9:02 AM
Mon, Jun. 6, 5:36 PM
- Zillow (Z, ZG) has settled a lawsuit filed by News Corp.-owned (NWS, NWSA) Move Inc., the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and three related entities for $130M. The settlement doesn't contain any admission of wrongdoing. (8-K filing)
- Move had sued Zillow for trade secret theft over its hiring of two former Move execs - chief industry development officer Errol Samuelson and MLS partnerships VP Curt Beardsley - and had claimed $2B in damages. Zillow sold off last month after receiving a mixed ruling in the suit regarding allegations the hired execs destroyed evidence that could've helped Move's case.
- Z +8.5% after hours to $32.90. ZG +4% to $32.00. Legal costs related to the lawsuit have had a big impact on Zillow's bottom line.
Wed, May 18, 5:40 PM
- In a response to today's rulings in its trade-secrets case against Zillow, Move Inc. (NWS, NWSA) says it's pleased with the actions and is looking forward to presenting evidence to a jury June 6.
- That, despite the fact that the company would have preferred a more declaratory judgment to end the case in its favor.
- The judge allowed an instruction that allows the jury to infer that destroyed evidence could have helped Move's case, or hurt Zillow's. Curt Beardsley -- who left Move along with Errol Samuelson for Zillow -- had testified that he had erased files from Zillow computers to cover up viewing of pornography, in what Zillow chief Spencer Rascoff called a "knucklehead" move.
- "This important ruling validates our claim that one of Zillow's top executives, Curt Beardsley, acted with 'willfulness and bad faith' in destroying evidence, and his actions have 'prejudiced plaintiffs' ability to prosecute their case,' " Move says. It adds that the case has cost Zillow more than $40M, "making the two poached executives among the most expensive in corporate history."
- Meanwhile, Zillow (NASDAQ:Z), which declined as much 6.6% in the ruling's aftermath, recovered quickly to close up 2.8% on the day, and has added another 0.8% in gains after hours.
- Updated 7:25 p.m.: Zillow looks forward to the trial as well: "We applaud the Court’s decision with respect to Zillow and Errol Samuelson, which validates what we already knew: that during the pre-trial hearing, News Corp did not offer evidence that Zillow or Errol did anything wrong or that the we failed to live up to our obligations in this case. ... Ultimately this comes down to News Corp. trying to win in the courts, since they aren’t winning in the court of consumer opinion."
- Now read Dual Share Class Arbitrage Opportunity With News Corp. »
Thu, May 5, 6:51 PM
- News Corp. (NWS, NWSA) swung to a loss as it took costs tied to litigation and revenue slipped, but the company beat expectations on an adjusted basis in its fiscal Q3.
- Segment EBITDA of $185M excluded a legal settlement charge of $280M and beat an expected $150M; including the charge, reported segment EBITDA was -$122M.
- Excluding the legal charge and currency headwinds, "revenues and EBITDA declined 5% and 8%, respectively, which was still disappointing," said CEO Robert Thomson; he thinks Q4 is on track, though, "with the expansion of our digital real estate business, foreign currency comparisons hopefully beginning to ease, and cost saving initiatives taking firmer root."
- Revenue by segment: News and Information Services, $1.23B (down 9%); Book Publishing, $358M (down 11%); Digital Real Estate Services, $194M (up 14%); Cable Network Programming, $107M (down 8%).
- In EBITDA terms, its largest segment swung to a loss: News and Information Services, -$187M; Book Publishing, $36M (down 36%); Digital Real Estate Services, $39M (down 7%); Cable Network Programming, $34M (up 26%).
- The company noted Realtor.com hit record traffic with 50M average monthly unique users (up 30%).
Thu, Apr. 14, 6:07 PM
- Testimony continues in the $1.77B legal battle between real estate firms Move (NWS, NWSA) and Zillow Group (NASDAQ:Z), with Zillow chief Spencer Rascoff denying in court that Errol Samuelson had offered to share trade secrets.
- Move -- which runs Realtor.com -- is charging that Samuelson and Curt Beardsley divulged trade secrets in leaving Move for Zillow in 2014, and that they covered that up by deleting files from various devices.
- Rascoff says he disciplined Curt Beardsley, an executive who left Move for Zillow, over sloppiness in destroying and erasing devices. “Curt made a number of decisions that exhibited bad judgment that I can only describe as knucklehead moves,” Rascoff testified; Beardsley testified that he had erased files from Zillow computers because he had used them in viewing pornography.
- Rascoff also said Samuelson didn't offer to share any Move trade secrets, "and if he had, I would have hung up the phone at that very moment." Zillow has called the charges "baseless."
- Now read Will Seasonality Return At Zillow? »
Wed, Apr. 6, 12:02 PM
- News America Marketing (NWS +1%, NWSA +0.9%) has named News Corp. veteran Ajay Singh as its chief financial officer.
- The company runs Sunday coupon inserts as well as digital platforms for marketing and promotions.
- Singh was previously senior VP of finance at News Corp., and built out financial systems teams prior to the company's debut as a separate publicly traded company three years ago.
- Now read Dual Share Class Arbitrage Opportunity With News Corp. »
Wed, Mar. 23, 8:10 PM
- News Group Newspapers -- publisher of tabloid The Sun and part of News UK (NWS -1.4%, NWSA -0.8%) -- posted a £250M-plus loss today as a result of writedowns and continuing costs tied to a phone-hacking scandal.
- The unit took £277M in one-time charges for the year, a heavy £204M of which are tied to a writedown of the paper's publishing rights (lower value of the masthead).
- Another £50M goes to continuing legal fees tied to the company's phone-hacking scandal -- that following £500M in existing spending tied to the controversy.
- Excluding the charges, underlying profits were £31.3M, down 12.1% Y/Y, on revenues that fell 6% to £459.1M as print circulation dipped.
Mon, Feb. 29, 7:42 PM
- News Corp. (NWS -1.5%, NWSA -0.9%) is set to quickly settle a class-action case over in-store promotions with a payment of $244M, according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
- Both classes of shares were flat in after-hours trading.
- Consumer goods companies including Dial, Kraft Heinz and Smithfield Foods gathered into a class action to charge News Corp. with monopolistic practices around its dominance of the market for in-store promotions at retailers: coupon dispensers, endcap displays, cart ads and other displays.
- The trial had just begun earlier today in what was disclosed to be a $2B lawsuit (Plaintiffs sought $674.6M, which could be trebled under antitrust law).
- News Corp. has reportedly come to a five-year settlement where aside from the $244M payment, it agrees not to enter exclusive deals with retailers lasting longer than 2.5 years unless retailers first ask for the contracts in writing.
- Updated 7:44 p.m.: The company just confirmed that it's paying about $250M, along with $30M to resolve related claims. It's still denying any wrongdoing.
- Previously: Trial begins over News Corp. dominance of in-store promotions (Feb. 29 2016)
Mon, Feb. 29, 11:17 AM
- News Corp. (NWS -0.1%, NWSA +0.4%) is in court in Manhattan today as a trial gets under way to consider whether the company is monopolizing the market for in-store retail promotions at more than 50,000 locations.
- Consumer good companies including Dial, Kraft Heinz and Smithfield Foods are united in a class action accusing News Corp. of monopolistic behavior in using long-term retailer contracts to dominate coupon dispensers, end-of-aisle displays, cart ads and more.
- Plaintiffs say by 2009, News Corp. had 90.5% of the market, pushing its sole remaining competitor, Valassis Communications, out of the business by 2014. They originally sought damages that could hit $2.5B if trebled under antitrust law, but pretrial rulings recently have put some limits on liability.