Gannett Company CEO Gracia Martore isn’t saying whether the company was a bidder on the McGraw-Hill TV stations bought by Scripps, but she does say that the pricing supports the value of the 23 TV stations in the Gannett portfolio. And Gannett has been buying back its own stock because of the market prices.
“We would never discuss whether we were in or out of any bidding, but what it appears is that those recent transactions – you know, we’ve done some quick math on it, but it’s a little hard to decipher with all of the moving pieces – but it look like they’ve been going in the 10 times two-year average EBITDA range. You know, what that says to us is it speaks to the value of terrific portfolio of 23 stations that we already own and the total value of the total portfolio of Gannett properties. That’s why we’re buying back stock, because we believe those values aren’t appropriately reflected in our share price,” she said in the Q&A session of her first quarterly conference call as CEO.
That view echoes what Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker recently said about TV stock values.
Retransmission consent revenues were up 27% in Q3 to $20 million and analysts wanted to hear from Martore about efforts by the TV networks to claim a chunk of that new revenue pie through reverse comp. “There’s a lot of room for the pie to grow,” Martore said, insisting that broadcasters aren’t yet being properly compensated by cable and satellite companies for the value of their content. She doesn’t disagree with the idea that the networks should share in the pie, and she figures that helping the networks grow will be good for stations in the long-run as well. But Gannett doesn’t have to worry about the sharing idea for a while, since its network affiliate contracts still have several years to run. Gannett, by the way, has 12 NBC affiliates, 6 CBS, 3 ABC and 2 MyNet in its portfolio.
RBR-TVBR observation: We didn’t hear anything specifically about Gannett bidding on the four McGraw-Hill stations, but the company has a reputation for at least kicking the tires of any big market TV properties that come on the market. Sometimes, when the fit and the price are right, they buy, but Gannett has always been very disciplined about its bidding on acquisitions. That was the case when Gracia Martore was CFO. It was the case when Gracia Martore was COO. It is likely to still be the case with Gracia Martore as CEO.
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