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Special Situations

Entering the Media Spin Zone

By Elliott H. Gue, on Aug. 22, 2014

Meanwhile, Tribune Company’s broadcasting and other media assets have become more profitable. Although fewer Americans read print newspapers, local TV and radio stations still attract a sizable audience—and plenty of advertising dollars.

On July 10, 2013, Tribune Company announced that the firm would split into two publicly traded entities: Tribune Publishing (NYSE: TPUB), which owns the firm’s iconic print outlets, and Tribune Media Company (OTC: TRBAA), which owns 42 local TV stations in 33 US markets.

From the day Tribune Company announced the split until Tribune Publishing went public, the stock soared more than 43 percent, beating the S&P 500 and the S&P 500 Media index.

This success hardly came as a surprise. EW Scripps (NYSE: SSP), which owns more than a dozen newspapers in smaller cities, unlocked significant value for shareholders when it spun off its television assets, which included the HGTV and Food Network channels as Scripps Networks Interactive (NYSE: SNI).

Although EW Scripps announced the split five days after the S&P 500 peaked in fall 2007, the company’s stock managed to eke out a slight gain between Oct. 16, 2007, and June 1, 2008.

And an investor who bought the stock on the day EW Scripps unveiled its strategic plan would be sitting on a total return of more than 100 percent, easily besting the 19 percent total return generated by the S&P 500.

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