The McClatchy Company has watched its stock price tank from a 52-week high of more than $15 to its current price of $2.20 as the company's massive debt load has been made more ominous by the precipitous decline in advertising brought on by the weak economy -- on top of all the other problems facing newspapers. In 2005, the stock traded at better than $75 per share.
So now McClatchy is looking to sell the Miami Herald, according to The New York Times. But the Times added that its sources "said they knew of no serious offers for the paper, reflecting the evaporation of major investors' interest in buying newspapers."
Shocking! I can't believe that people aren't lining up to buy a newspaper that makes its money by selling advertising in one of the cities hardest hit by falling real estate prices.
You really have to question the intelligence of the company's board of directors and management: The company has paid out enormous dividends while acquiring companies like Knight Ridder at outrageous prices. Now they're looking to dump one of their most prestigious properties at a fire-sale price. And yet the dividend remains.
It's time for the dividend to go, along with everyone who's had anything to do with the company's strategic direction. It might be too late to salvage shareholder value, but they should at least find someone who knows what he's doing to give it a try.
McClatchy's board of directors is notoriously passive. I'm thinking their next step will be to interview bankruptcy attorneys.