U.S. newspaper group cancels annual conference
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK May 28 (Reuters) - A group that represents U.S. newspaper publishers canceled its annual presentation for financial analysts this year, as falling attendance reflected waning investor interest in the ailing sector.
The Mid-Year Media Review, presented by the Newspaper Association of America, used to take place in June but this year, many publicly traded newspaper owners will instead speak at the Deutsche Bank Media & Telecommunications Conference in New York City, scheduled for June 9-10.
"Deutsche Bank approached us and offered us a similar platform," NAA spokeswoman Sheila Owens said on Wednesday. "We talked with membership, and ultimately decided to do it."
The Mid-Year Media Review was an opportunity for newspaper executives to make their case to Wall Street about why their businesses were worth investing money in.
Lately, that argument has become less convincing. U.S. newspaper stocks have tumbled, with McClatchy Co (MNI.N) off almost 70 percent, and Journal Register Co JRCO.PK getting delisted after its shares fell to as low as 16 cents.
The biggest reason has been tanking advertising sales, particularly classifieds, on wider economic troubles and continuing drops in paid circulation as more readers get their news for free on the Internet.
So far, publishers have been unable to use the Internet to compensate for their print losses, and profit margins have shriveled. Many have resorted to employee buyouts or layoffs to cut expenses, leaving investors with the perception that the business is dying.
Some of the biggest names in the business, meanwhile, are no longer traded. Lee Enterprises Inc (LEE.N) bought Pulitzer and McClatchy bought Knight Ridder. Tribune Co went private under Chicago real estate tycoon Sam Zell.
The newspaper association's members have not discussed what to do in 2009, but there are no current plans to schedule the conference for next year, Owens said.
There were 254 people at the last conference, not counting reporters, she said. That is a 14 percent drop from 2006 and a 24 percent drop from 2005.
"I think it basically speaks to the lack of investor interest in the sector," said Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert. "It felt last year to me that attendance was pretty light." (Editing by Tim Dobbyn)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this