J.P. Morgan has given a thumbs-up to McClatchy’s refinanced debt and cost controls, and has moved its rating from “underweight” to “neutral,” according to Editor & Publisher.
The newspaper publisher “held an offering for $875 million in notes in order to refinance more than half a billion in bank debt and other outstanding notes. The move leaves McClatchy with $91 million in bank debt and notes that are due to mature in 2011,” the magazine explains.
Analysts said McClatchy has “proven to stand out ahead of its peers on cost reduction, giving a higher degree of confidence that it will be able to maintain profitability and cash flow despite ongoing revenue pressure expected in 2010.” The company’s chief means of cost reduction has been layoffs and buyouts, to the tune of eliminating about a third of its workforce.
Gannett, The New York Times Co. and E.W. Scripps are also rated “neutral,” E&P notes.
J.P. Morgan expects McClatchy to the see an advertising revenue decline of 11.5 percent in 2010 with total revenue estimated to be off 8.4 percent.
In another report, the analyst predicts newspaper industry advertising revenue will fall 8 percent in 2010 due to easing comparisons. “For the first time in many years, margins may actually improve in 2010 as revenue declines moderate and most companies benefit from a more significant decline in costs,” analysts wrote.