Media General Resists Going Splitsville: Plenty of Skepticism Still Surrounds Stock

| About: Media General (MEG)

When I purchased Media General (NYSE:MEG) I didn't see it as a break-up play. That may be the way for the company to go -- but I'd welcome significant stock repurchases just as much.

Of course, I knew the company was resisting the idea of meaningful stock buybacks when I bought it. Management's reasoning was that with approximately 80% of the stock locked up, there was little float for potential investors.

Why management didn't put the interests of current shareholders first is another question.

Yeah, I knew (know) that Media General's management isn't the savviest in the world. But the stock was cheap when I bought -- and when I averaged down by buying more -- and I think that value will out in the end.

Nat Worden writes about Media General in Investors, including Gabelli -- which owns 20% of MEG, want the company to follow the move of Belo. That is, separate the broadcasting business from the sluggish newspaper operations. Media General management is resisting that move.

Here's what the Gabelli analyst quoted in the linked article says:

"Media General does generate free cash flow, so you do have a debt reduction story going forward," says Lucas. "They have attractive assets in growthier markets in the Southeast, particularly in Florida, where you're getting more people, more eyeballs watching and more potential readers for your properties. That will create more retail stores and more potential advertisers as the housing market stabilizes."

The company is cheap. But if you read the article you'll find plenty to be skeptical of regarding the controlling family. I'm holding Media General for now and any changes will be reported here. Any new shareholders should be prepared to have their patience tested.

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Tagged: , Publishing - Newspapers
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