Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The WSJ’s „Heard on the Street” column discusses Sun-Times Media (SVN), whose battle–weary minority shareholders, who 3 years ago ousted Conrad Black from the co's top jobs amid allegations of corporate looting, have launched a new offensive. They want the co sold. Some of their frustrations are shared with a strange bedfellow: Mr. Black himself. The co "has been in free fall for over 2 years," Mr. Black said in an interview. The new mgmt at the co has delivered a string of disappointing results since selling the crown jewel, Telegraph Group. 2 weeks ago, the co said it expects 3Q operating results for its flagship Chicago Sun-Times and its suburban papers to be weaker than a year earlier. This is spurring major shareholders to meet with board members and urge them to cut costs and quickly resolve some sticky tax and legal issues to prepare for a sale. The shareholders are also vetting candidates to succeed CEO Gordon Paris. "The board has not acted with sufficient urgency," says Jennifer Wallace of Summit Street Capital. "Let's just sell it," says Christopher Browne, of Tweedy Browne.

According to the Barron’s Online, there's still value to be found among cable operators. While rising 15% so far this year, shares of NTL (NTLI) still look attractive compared to Comcast and growth opportunities abound. Having acquired the Virgin Mobile cellular phone service it could offer cellphone service along with traditional phone calls, cable TV and fast Internet, the fabled "quadruple play." Bulls brush away the threat of competition, arguing that with the Virgin brand giving the co momentum and with new products such as high-definition television, NTL should reap a cash windfall on the way to that communications bundle. "We think the stock is worth in the mid-$30s, and we're willing to be patient and allow the mgmt to execute on a quadruple play to produce those results," says Leon Cooperman, of Omega Advisors.

“Inside Scoop” section reports that Berkshire Hathaway disclosed an initial stake in Target (TGT) of 5.5m shares, valued at nearly $269m. The investment firm also boosted its stake in J&J (JNJ) to nearly 24.6m shares, valued at $1.47bn. In both cases, Berkshire's holdings amount to less than 1% of the co's outstanding shares.

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