News Corp. (NWSA - option chain) shares are off a bit today after a company official said at a conference that the company is planning to build its own social-gaming business, hoping to capitalize on the momentum of smaller gaming start-ups like FarmVille maker Zynga. The NWSA official said the social-gaming effort will not be connected to its social network site MySpace, which the company is considering selling. So far this morning, investors are not too optimistic about this news. If you think that the stock won't fall by too much in the coming months, then now could be a good time to look at a bullish hedged trade on NWSA.
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News Corp. (NWS) competes with other media conglomerates like The Walt Disney Company (DIS), CBS Corporation (CBS), Time Warner, Inc. (TWX), Viacom, Inc. (VIA) and The New York Times Company (NYT) in the media and entertainment business. Our price estimate for News Corp's stock stands at $23.20, which is a premium of roughly 25% to market price.
News Corp. recently revealed its digital magazine "The Daily," specifically designed for Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPad. Rather than being a modification of existing magazines or newspapers, this is a completely new product optimized for tablet viewing. The company had reportedly invested about $30 million to create the product.
The earnings season has been going pretty good so far, and Walt Disney (DIS) will get its chance to impress Wall Street this afternoon when it reports its fiscal first quarter results after the market closes.
Going into this afternoon's report, analysts are expecting to see the company report earnings of $0.56 per share, up from $0.47 during the same period last year.
- Wells Fargo upgraded Boeing (BA) to outperform from market perform. The firm is more confident about the company's earnings growth going forward.
- Oppenheimer upgraded H&R Block (HRB) to outperform from perform on expectations the company will improve performance in 2011. The firm has a $22 price target for shares.
- Deutsche Bank upgraded SunTrust (STI) to buy from hold to reflect valuation and expectations the company's credit will improve. The firm raised its target for shares to $34 from $29.
- Children's Place (PLCE) was upgraded to overweight from neutral at JPMorgan.
- Taubman Centers (TCO) was upgraded to neutral from sell at UBS.
- Cavium Networks (CAVM) was upgraded to outperform from neutral at Cowen.
With Facebook Connect, members of the social networking site can interact with their profiles "remotely." If you want to share this blog post on Facebook, for example, you can do it without opening a new browser, plucking www.facebook.com on the keyboard and pasting the URL into the status field. This connection, even though it costs Facebook a pageview or two, reinforces the user's relationship with the site, increasing the likelihood that he or she will remain active overall. It also provides fodder for other members, fueling more clicks, comments and likes ... and ultimately cash in the Facebook till.
Apparently, all the hype wasn't worth it. After Twitter COO Dick Costolo explained that the company was going to unveil a "non-traditional" advertising model and claimed that "people will love it," what we're seeing is a foray into decidedly charted territory.
"While newspaper Web sites often face dozens of competitors touting their own local offerings in any given market, they have been able to thrive by leveraging trusted brands and strong local content to appeal to consumers and advertisers alike," John Sturm, president and CEO of the NAA, said in a statement.
Despite all the Black Friday social media engagement this year, a substantial 75% of the top 100 online retailers don't have a formal presence on Facebook, according to a study by ForeSee Results. Another 25% haven't even hit 10,000 fans.
How are readers finding the news? Well, increasingly, the answer is Facebook. The social networking site, which boasts well over 350 million registered users, is now the fourth largest referral source of traffic to online news destinations. Almost a year ago, only 0.5% of traffic to news and media sites came from Facebook. Today, that level is 3.5%, according to data from Web analytics firm Experian Hitwise.
Only Google (GOOG), Yahoo! (YHOO) and MSN (MSFT) send more traffic to news sites. Google News, a subset of the search engine giant, failed to keep pace with Facebook, despite the fact that it exists specifically to send Internet users to media outlets. Only 1.39% of referrals came from this source.
Ahhh, Hulu. That wonderful destination where I can re-acquaint myself with my favorite Justin-Timberlake-on-SNL moments, catch up on episodes of Greek, and search for those old Silver Spoons clips I remember so fondly. The two-year-old website is a joint venture between Walt Disney's (DIS) ABC Network, General Electric's (GE) NBC Universal division, and News Corp.'s (NWS) FOX Entertainment Group, and is partially funded by Providence Equity Partners.
But just as online news readers may soon be charged to access The New York Times online, we may have to open our wallets for certain corners of the Hulu universe (they will likely still let me watch Silver Spoons for free).
The recent announcement by the New York Times (NYT) that it would start to require subscriptions next year has drawn no shortage of attention and commentary. It has tried to put content behind a pay wall before (and failed), as have other newspapers.
Almost universally, newspapers have struggled with online subscriptions, with the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, a News Corp (NWS) property, the only two that have really delivered results better than awful. Whether the New York Times can operate at that level is in doubt, particularly given the stunning realization about Long Island daily newspaper Newsday.
In a six-minute on-stage interview with TechCrunch, Zuckerberg went on at length about the social media platform's privacy settings, which have been the subject of unending debate. He says that he'd make more data public by default if he could start Facebook again. Though Zuckerberg cites Internet trends that indicate a reduced concern with privacy, the real reasons are more likely financial.
According to Debra Aho Williamson, senior analyst at eMarketer and author of Social Network Ad Spending: 2010 Outlook, "As more marketers incorporate social networks in their business, they will no longer look at them as siloed destinations. Instead, they will look to increase the impact of their social network presence by linking it to other marketing initiatives, both online and offline."
Five of the largest companies in the print business are testing the digital waters together. Rather than yield their content to alien formats, Time Inc. (TWX), News Corp. (NWS), Conde Nast, Hearst and Meredith Corp. have announced plans to develop a digital content format of their own. This new product would compete with the newly released Nook from Barnes & Noble (BKS), as well as one from Sony (SNE) and the industry-leading Kindle from Amazon (AMZN). The new e-reader content will come in color and in a format that would work across several devices.
The five media companies are equal partners in this joint venture, which will allow publishers to set their own prices for their content -- an obvious response to what they see as unfavorable revenue share deals offered by Amazon earlier this year. Rupert Murdoch has been particularly vocal on this issue, particularly about the fact that News Corp. only receives a little more than a third of the $14.99 a month it costs to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal on a Kindle. He says of the device that it's "a fantastic invention for reading books. It is not much of an experience for newspapers."
The newspaper industry continues to blame Google (GOOG) for its woes, and Google continues to claim its innocence. The search engine giant's CEO, Eric Schmidt, says that his company could actually help the newspaper industry survive the shift from print to digital ... a shift that's been more than a decade in the making, he was kind enough not to note.
According to Schmidt, publishers need to dig into the online environment and find new ways to generate revenue. "With dwindling revenue and diminished resources," he wrote in an op-ed piece published in News Corp's (NWS) Wall Street Journal, "frustrated newspaper executives are looking for someone to blame."