December 03, 2008

Tipping the Times (ugh)

This blog is a great tip sheet for those who know. 10 days ago I wrote:
A propos of nothing, on Friday I went long the New York Times at $5.14. I can only imagine good news from here on. How could it be worse?
The stock is presently at $7.70, up 50%. I get a kick from making money from assets which I detest since it proves I can detach my judgement from my emotions. Gold at $250/oz was another case. I dislike gold as an asset. So much of its value derives from the collective mass mania of the world's central banks in the late '70s, early '80s - one of the least remarked, most obscene squanderings of other people's money yet perpetrated. Anyhoot I do loathe The NYT. Also the profession it defiles, print journalism, is obviously done for. So here's why I think the stock can go to $20 within 6 months:

1. Staring death in the face forces management to do what needs to be done.

2. There are ways the Dems can give taxpayers' money to the NYT without a straight bail-out. Job ads is one used by UK government and quangos to boost their favourite organ, the Guardian, which prints a weekly 100+ page supplement for jobs in social work and worse.

3. The NYT brand could become scintillating. There's excellent content and a vast archive. An imaginative editor would ditch the incredibly boring line up of commentators (does anyone enjoy reading Krugman, Brooks, Dowd, Herbert, Rich, Collins? Why not a line-up of Paglia, Kos, Coulter, Steyn, Carville, Richard Dawkins? People who people want to read. Make your own list. I'd call the commentary team ' The Galacticos' after Real Madrid's soccer stars.

4. The first internet bubble was predicated on the value of eyeballs. Eyeballs bring ads and more eyeballs and more ads. The NYT has quite a few eyeballs now, but could attract vast numbers more with a re-design and a think locally, act globally mindset for it's web business.

5. The NYT brand has been poisoned, but there's an antidote -run it as a newspaper rather than a propaganda organ for the eternally juvenile. Maybe now that Bushitler isn't around to shore up the liberals' religion, their energies will be freed to write about the world as it is. Or maybe the scummy propagandists will just go away. I'm not asking for a paper that agrees with me - tho a Paglia-inspired, Palin-loving NYT would probably become compulsory reading across the political spectrum - I'm asking for a proper wall between editorial and reporting, as well as truthful reporting, better writing, better design and a vision to attract a vast pile of eyeballs across the globe.

6. The sun will rise tomorrow. The biggest factor now in the stock market panic is fear of the unknown. When I read today that Obama positively proclaims that there won't be a windfall tax on oil companies, I thought this is proof that he's not insane. The rally of the last couple of weeks is mainly due to that realization as evidenced by his economic apppointments. An unqualified opportunist is ok, a Chavez-like nutcase would not have been a buy signal. Bombed out businesses like the NYT suddenly have a decent presumption of a Clintonesque administration and can bounce back hard. In the last couple of weeks I've loaded up on NYTco, GM, Genco and Xstrata.....the stinkiest stocks I could think of that I vaguely understand. Each is different, but each has been massively depressed by fear of the unknown. You read it here, Anatreptoids. NB these are all highly risky bets that can go to zero overnight, so you should only make them if you can absorb the entire loss or know how to control the loss using attractively priced hedges (that's the black magic).

7. There are plenty of would be predators on the Times. The Sulzberger family must be exceptionally receptive now to a bid at say $20, under $3bn for the Boston Globe, the Times, the NYT building, a stake in the Red Sox and other sundry assets. Compare last year's $10bn valuation for Facebook or $5bn for Dow Jones. Things change.