Thursday, November 22, 2007

Have They Woken Up?

During the last week, for the first time, The New York Times has dragged itself to commence reporting good news from Iraq, namely the recent and sustained reduction in violence and consequent return from Syria and Jordan of tens of thousands of Iraqis who fled from the depredations of Al Qaeda.

$17.14 at today's close on the NYSE

Adolf wonders whether this about turn in editorial policy might have something to do with the steady decline in the paper's share price since in 2003 it mounted its aggressive campaign against the Bush administration and its War Against Terror centred in the Iraq theatre.

Just last week, the share price broke through (downward trend) the $18 barrier and now hovers dangerously close to the $17 mark, after declining steadily from a healthy $47 in April 2003 to a dreadful $19 before last week's plunge. Readers will see the share price was relatively stable up until the April 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The price trend since early 2004 seems more than coincidental.

Period: Moving Avg 1: Moving Avg 2: Stochastic: MACD


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

I see it actually traded down to $16.75 during the morning session.

Nick C said...

Fox News is accused of media bias much more often then anyone else in America, even though the vast majority of the American media favours the Democrats. Of course they were happy to report mass death in Iraq, but no progress. Well done for highlighting this.

Mike Graham said...

How does the trend for the NYT compare with other media companies? (I'm asking a genuine qn here - I don't know the answer)

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

A very good question.It's quite difficult to figure out the answer because most of the other notably anti Bush media are not reported individually but rather as parts of other conglomerates. e.g CBS is part of Viacom and the LA Times is part of the Chicago Tribune group. WaPo, I'm not quite sure. I'll see what I can dig up.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

The Washington Post has gone from $1,000 down to $800 over this past two years. It was at $800 at the beginning of 2004.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

News Corp (Murdock) up from $10 in April 2003 to $20 today. Of course all the leftie journos from TVNZ, RNZ, ABC Australia etc will tell you all the reasons other than leftist bias for these trends but I think the answer is pretty bloody obvious.

Sean said...

It would be more interesting to see the circulation trends than share price, as it is more indicative of reporting standards. Taking into account the rise of new media, one would need to see NYT's circulation trends in comparison to like media (i.e. if they are all heading downward in the Internet age, is NYT heading downward faster than the others?).

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

I don't agree Sean. Circulation is 'oh so last century.' It doesn't take into account revenues from online advertising. The market price is an excellent indicator of editorial success or failure.

Falafulu Fisi said...

I am surprised that Phil U (including the anti-US lefties) hasn't popped in here to say that the Iraq war is going so bad for the US military, even with the reported decreasing violence.

Sean said...

Hmmm, Adolf, I actually don't know if circulation is in decline or not but I still think it would be a better indicator because share price can be affected by business growth potential (or perception thereof), bad/good management, takeover potential, prospects etc, ...nothing necessarily directly to do with opinion or even perceived bias. However if the general public (customers) thought they were spinning a line of bull on Iraq (amongst other topics) then circulation trends would be more reflective of this.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Sean, the real difficulty is that where individual media are part of conglomerates it is very difficult to see their respective performance. Circulation no longer provides an accurate guide, as it used to before the advent of online publishing and associated advertising. It is this recent phenomenon which makes 'financial performance' the only true indicator. So, my citing of Newscorp is almost irrelevant as one can't see the performance of individual publications which take a clearly leftist or rightist or balanced stance.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Sean, here's a bit of a clue to circulation figures in the first para. I'm not sure where to go for the source data but I'll see what I can do.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Here's some more detailed analysis. Still hard to sort out the whet from the chaff. It looks as though the papers have the ability to identify on line readers from within their geographic market area. Interesting.


As a journo I think both Adolf and Sean are correct.
Circulations do matter but in this internet age, so do page views on their respective websites.
Advertising tends to depend on readers, both in their number and where the readers fit in the marketplace.
It also depends on the skills and selling power of the individual sales reps.
This in turn depends on the ability of an employer to recruit and retain the right sles reps.
Much is interlinked, with advertising providing the bulk of newspaper revenues- typically 80% so I've been told.
Despite these variables, however, I would say the simplest measure of success for a newspaper editor is to look at sales.
I have highlighted that issue with Sunday Star-Times on many occassions where I believe its significant slide in recent years stems from the hard left viewpoints and policies of its editor, turning off it more moderate or right-of-centre readership.
Naturally, a slump in sales will in turn hit advertising revenues, and consequently profits/losses and shareprice.
The capital markets, therefore, are revealing their disatisfaction with how the New York Times has been managed.
However, other factors come into play, like how costs are controlled, but cutting costs usually cuts quality too.
Nonetheless, Wall Street will be unhappy with NYT readership figures as well.
Regardless of talk of the impending demise of the dead Tree Press, the media, both old and new, tends to be very profitable.
Profits margins can be as high as 30% of total revenues.
Advertising does provide 'rivers of gold' and even today, with declining newspaper circulations and a loss of revenues online, there remains much money to be made in the media- even if owners don't share it with their journalist staff!
Some publishers have online presences and others have bought online operations like Fairfax buying Trade Me, which sounded a firtune when they paid $700 million some time ago.
But it will prove a wise buy and a bargain in the long run.
Adolf's main point about NYT politics costing the company a fortune in shareprice value is correct.
But so is Sean in focussing on readership.
But within this and the media, there are so many variables and other factors too.