Private equity investor Apollo Global Management is buying the huge textbook operation. Once the deal closes, either late this year or early next, McGraw-Hill says it will position itself as “high-growth, high-margin benchmarks, content and analytics company” to be renamed McGraw-Hill Financial. The deal follows by more than a year the company’s announcement that it would separate the capital-intensive textbook operation from the unit that includes Standard & Poor’s. Activist hedge fund Jana Partners and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board had pushed for the change saying that McGraw-Hill had become too unfocused as educational publishing diluted earnings. CEO Harold “Terry” McGraw III will stick with the financial business. Last year the company sold its nine television stations to E.W. Scripps. Here’s today’s release:
The federal government will have to slash $1.2T in spending, mostly beginning in 2013, if the 12-member congressional Super Committee can’t strike a deficit reduction deal soon. They still appear split — even though, as a practical matter, they have to reach an agreement by midnight in order to have something ready for the official Wednesday deadline. That drove most company shares down, with a late uptick possibly softening the blow. The Dow’s U.S. Media Index was down 1.2% about 20 minutes before the end of the trading day. Disney was hardest hit among the industry’s biggest players: Its shares were -3.5%, followed by Sony (-3.4%), CBS (-2.3%), Viacom(-2%), and Time Warner (-1%). Comcast was up about 0.5%. Among other media companies, Cinedigm (-8.8%) and RealD (-7.2%) took the worst beatings. Others down at least 4% include E.W. Scripps, Entercom, Crown Media, Netflix, National CineMedia, Live Nation, LIN TV, and Dish Network. Gainers include Westwood One, Barnes & Noble, Sirius XM, Radio One, McClatchy, and McGraw Hill.
The nine-station acquisition includes ABC affiliates in Denver, Indianapolis, San Diego, and Bakersfield, CA. When the transaction is complete, 10 of Scripps’ 19 stations will be ABC affiliates – making it the largest independent owner of ABC stations. McGraw-Hill’s other stations are low-power affiliates of Spanish language network Azteca America. Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker says this morning that the terms are “a positive for the broadcast TV space” because they reaffirm the value of stations at a time when potential buyers are growing concerned about the prospects for the ad market. Nexstar is still looking to sell. McGraw-Hill wanted to unload its stations as it prepares to split into two companies, and deal with shareholder concerns that it has become too unfocused. Here’s the release:
This seems to be just what many angry shareholders wanted. Activist hedge fund Jana Partners and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board lobbied for just such a change in July when they bought 5.2% of the publishing, investment analysis and TV station company. The concern is that the hefty profits at S&P were being diluted by the capital-intensive textbook operation. McGraw-Hill CEO Terry McGraw is no fool: He’ll stick with S&P. Meanwhile, there no word on who might buy McGraw-Hill’s four TV stations that the company put on the block in June.
NEW YORK, Sept. 12, 2011 — The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP) today announced that its Board of Directors has unanimously approved a comprehensive Growth and Value Plan that includes separation into two strong public companies: McGraw-Hill Markets, primarily focused on capital and commodities markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, focused on education services and digital learning.
The three-part Plan is designed to accelerate growth and increase shareholder value by:
1. Creating two “pure-play” companies with the scale, and the capital and cost structures to fully leverage their world-class franchises, iconic brands, and leading market positions
2. Reducing costs significantly to ensure efficient operating structures for the two new companies
3. Accelerating the pace of share repurchases to a total of $1 billion for the full year 2011 (approximately $540 million repurchased year to date)
The Growth and Value Plan will create two focused operating companies with deeper customer engagement,
The bears are back. After a relatively calm week, stocks prices across the board — including in media — are tanking today following reports that point to rising unemployment and inflation, and weakness in manufacturing. An hour before the market close, the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and NASDAQ indexes for media stocks each were down at least 5.4%. Among the Big Media giants CBS is -10.7% followed by Time Warner (-6.1%), Sony (-5.7%), News Corp (-5.2%), Viacom (-5.2%), Comcast (-4.8%), and Disney (-3.2%). Elsewhere on our watch list, Pandora Media (-12.9) is taking the biggest hit with LIN TV -9.4%. Others falling at least 8% include Gannett, Live Nation, Entercom, IMAX, Radio One, McGraw-Hill, and Discovery. Those off at least 7% include Cablevision, Amazon, TiVo, Netflix, McClatchy, Coinstar, Arbitron, and Scripps Networks. And companies down at least 6% include Barnes & Noble, Washington Post, E.W. Scripps, Sinclair Broadcasting, Outdoor Channel, and Dish Network. The only gainers are Lionsgate (+0.3%) and Cinedigm (+1.3%).
Media stocks likely will take even more punishment if the economy weakens. When times are bad shares of companies with high fixed costs, lots of debt, and that depend on ad sales, fall more dramatically than the overall market, Needham & Co analyst Laura Martin says today. She says that Discovery may be the best media stock to own now — but adds that it would be even safer for investors to own a fund of stocks that mirrors the S&P 500.
UPDATE, 2 PM: The market deteriorated as the day wore on, continuing the worst market slump since 2008. The Dow Jones U.S. Broadcasting and Entertainment Index closed down 7.3% — exceeding the 5.6% decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 6.7% drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500, and 6.9% fall at NASDAQ. CBS’ -10.3% slide made it the leading loser among media’s Big Guns. It was followed by News Corp (-7.7%), Viacom (-7.1%), Comcast (-6.6%), Sony (-6.4%), Disney (-6.1%), and Time Warner (-5.8%).
Double-digit losers include AMC Networks (-12.8%), LIN TV (-12.7%), Sirius XM (-12.7%), RealD (-12.6%), Cumulus Media (-11.9%), TiVo (-11.4%), Entercom (-10.9%), Westwood One (-10.8%), and E.W. Scripps (-10.3%). Those losing at least 9% include National CineMedia, Dish Network, Arbitron, Sinclair Broadcasting, Rovi, Outdoor Channel, Crown Media, Electronic Arts, Cablevision, and Coinstar.
Look out McGraw-Hill. Activist hedge fund Jana Partners and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board have bought 5.2% of the publishing, investment analysis and TV station company — and say that they may try to break it up. The investors reported in SEC filings today that they have “no present plan or proposal” for the company run by CEO Terry McGraw. But they plan to talk to McGraw-Hill’s directors, shareholders, and others about changes “to improve shareholder value.” That could include changes in McGraw-Hill’s “business, operations, management, board composition and representation, corporate structure, strategy and future plans,” they say. The news contributed to a 5.5% increase in McGraw-Hill’s share price in after-hours trading. The company is already trying to reorient itself. Last year it sold BusinessWeek magazine to Bloomberg, and it recently put its TV station group on the block. The company’s best-known properties include Standard & Poor’s and J.D. Powers Associates.