Digest: AT&T thinks; CBS upgrade
Telecom giant AT&T could decide on a much-rumored possible bid for satellite TV giant DirecTV Group or EchoStar Communications by year's end to try and get regulatory approval before a new administration comes in, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Most speculation has centered on a play for EchoStar, but observers recently also have mentioned DirecTV as a possible target. CFO Rick Lindner declined comment on the subject during AT&T's earnings call Tuesday.
Miller Tabak + Co. analyst David Joyce on Wednesday upgraded his rating on shares of CBS Corp. from "neutral" to "buy" after a drop in the stock in recent weeks as analysts have reduced their earnings estimates and raised growth concerns about next year. "The valuation again appears attractive," Joyce said, reiterating his $35 price target on the stock. CBS Class B shares closed down 1% on Wednesday at $29.18.
Gannett has added Neal Shapiro to its board, bringing the total number of directors to nine. Shapiro, who was president of NBC News from May 2001-September 2005, is president of WNET New York, the largest public TV station in the U.S. "Neal's diverse experience with network news and public television will be a tremendous asset," Gannett chairman and CEO Craig Dubow said.
Meredith reported a higher fiscal first-quarter profit despite weakness in its TV group. Profit rose 9.5% compared with $33.4 million a year ago. Revenue increased 4.7% to $404.5 million. Magazine publishing revenue rose 8%, but broadcasting revenue fell 7% to $75 million as political advertising revenue dropped from $9 million last year to $1 million. Nonpolitical revenue climbed 3%.