News Corp.'s Stock Hits 52-Week High

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NEW YORK — Class A shares of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. on Tuesday set a 52-week high, rising above a previous high set before phone-hacking allegations hit the conglomerate and its stock during the summer.

In the first U.S. stock market trading session of 2012, News Corp. stock reached $18.50, a 52-week high, early in the trading session. In late May and early June, the stock had hit $18.35. After losing billions in market value following the phone-hacking allegations in July that reduced the Murdoch family's stake in the company by nearly $1 billion, News Corp. saw its stock even dip to a 52-week low of $13.38.

At Tuesday's market close, the stock stood at $18.35, up 2.9 percent, giving the conglomerate a market value of $31.6 billion.

"I think there's more upside as we have a short-term $20 target, long-term $23 target," said Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce. "News Corp. is the cheapest of the entertainment conglomerates other than Comcast/NBCUniversal." Added Joyce: "The domestic and international cable nets have good affiliate fee and ad revenue growth, and the studio is solid."

Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan argued that the "hacking issue was overbaked in [the] stock price" and highlighted that there is "huge efficacy for [stock] repurchases at this level."

Echoed the Wall Street observer: There is a "good story at the network and [the] highest growth profile for a large cable net operator." Plus, he highlighted that the firm's newspaper unit is "no longer as relevant to overall valuations."

Last week, RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank upgraded News Corp.'s stock from "outperform" to make it his industry "top pick." "We see the best combination of operating momentum, return of capital potential, company-specific catalysts and reasonable valuation from News Corp. among large-cap media companies as we head into 2012," he wrote.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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