Tag Archives: Barron’s

WSJ Online celebrates 10-year anniversary

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The Wall Street Journal Online is 10 years old, and the Web site is celebrating by making the site free for the next 10 days, according to a press release. This is a similar move to what fellow site Barron’s Online did earlier this year to try to get more subscribers.

In a story on the Web site, the paper notes that WSJ Online was close to going under in the early years.

Wall Street Journal onlineThe story reads in part: “When the newsroom staff filed in early Sunday morning, April 28, 1996, they found that something had gone horribly wrong with the publishing system. While the technical staff struggled through the day and into the night to fix the problem, editors assembled what they could. At some dark point in the process, a brief article was written for the print Journal announcing the delay:

“‘… Journal editors said they made the decision to delay the launch, which had been planned for today (mon.), because of problems with the new electronic editing system used to produce the Interactive Edition. They said they believed the problems would be solved in time to introduce the new publication tomorrow. (tues.)’”

Read about it here.

The press release states, “The celebration kicks off this morning when The Wall Street Journal Online will go live from Times Square in New York with a mobile newsroom.

Tomorrow, May 2, the Online Journal will hold a San Francisco event in partnership with the San Francisco metro (“MUNI”). WSJ.com will provide free passes to the metro, so consumers can commute for free, courtesy of the Online Journal.

“‘We are excited to share this milestone anniversary celebration with our subscribers and advertisers,’ said Gail Griffin, general manager of The Wall Street Journal Online. ‘For 10 years WSJ.com has been the primary source for business news on the Web, offering the best in-depth, real time news and information as well as award winning analysis and content. This Open House enables visitors to experience our features and get a taste of the great value of the Online Journal.’

Read the rest of the release here.

Dow Jones still reporting losses from Weekend Journal

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Dow Jones, the parent company of The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, reported its first quarter earnings on Tuesday and while profits rose due to accounting issues, the company said it was still losing money from the weekend edition of the Journal.

The earnings release states, “Advertising revenue at the U.S. Wall Street Journal print edition, including Weekend Edition, increased 17.9% in the first quarter (up 19.1% in March), on a linage increase of 14.9% (up 17.2% in March). And Dow Jones Online advertising revenue increased 26% in the quarter (on a pro-forma basis, meaning including MarketWatch 2005 advertising revenue for the full year, advertising revenue increased 15%).

“The 5.1% gain in circulation and other revenue at Consumer Media was driven by increases at the print Journal and at the Online Journal and Barron’s Online. Consumer Media had an operating loss in the first quarter 2006 of $2.4 million mainly due to expected losses for Weekend Edition, but it was an improvement over a loss of $6.9 million in the first quarter 2005.”

Read more here.

In a separate press release on its advertising, Dow Jones said advertising revenue for the Journal was up 19.1 percent and up 14.9 percent for Barron’s. Financial advertising in the Journal in March was up 25 percent.

Barron's and inflation coverage

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New York-based money manager Barry Ritholtz criticizes Barron’s for its recent coverage about the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, on his blog called The Big Picture.

Ritholtz writes, “Barron’s jumps on the ‘We Have Inflation’ bandwagon this week, with two editorials acknowledging what Big Picture readers have long known: Inflation, undermeasured by the BLS, is robust and widespread throughout the economy.”

Later, Ritholtz noted, “We’ve discussed all too many times that CPI fails to adequately capture the perniciousness of rising prices as they are experienced by consumer and corporations alike. Donlan observes ‘Like it or not, we are stuck with measuring inflation by measuring prices. But we must understand that the measurements are made with a rubber yardstick.’

“Ironic. Just as inflation — and the absurdity of the CPI — is finally get the ink it deserves, the acceleration in inflation has begun cooling off.

“Oh, we still have inflation, only its not getting worse at a faster clip anymore.”

Read all of his post here.

I’ve spent the last year being one of the consumers that the government calls up every two or three months to ask about consumer purchases to help them measure inflation. And because I use a software program to track all of the family expenses, I can give them pretty detailed information. But I have yet to figure out how they’re tracking inflation based on the information I am giving them. One month they ask about restaurant purchases, and the next month it’s about sporting goods or tools.

GM execs blames shorts for negative stories

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Robert Lutz, a General Motors executive and one of the most outspoken auto industry executives in the past 25 years, said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” today that he believes that some analysts with short positions are the impetus behind negative stories about the automaker recently.

CNBC, in it’s infinite wisdom, is running an online poll on the issue. See here. As if an online poll, the results of which will be shown on the air later this week, has any credibility.

The fact that Lutz is simply repeating the same allegations made by Overstock.com President Patrick Byrne and others claiming that business journalists are being duped by short sellers is humorous if not downright sad. He’s implying that the decline in the stock price has nothing to do with the fact that GM has lost billions in the past year, has been forced to renegotiate with its union and its parts supplier for more favorable terms and failed to anticipate the interest in alternative fuel automobiles. Wake up to reality, Mr. Lutz. Business journalists don’t need shorts to write negative stories about your company. It’s a negative story all by itself.

As former BusinessWeek reporter Gary Weiss mentioned on his blog recently, business journalists haven’t been getting such a bad rap since the 1970s, when Barron’s legend Alan Abelson was basically accused of the same thing.

In 1977, a lawsuit brought by a Technicare Corp. shareholder accused Abelson of providing tips to these short sellers in advance of negative articles about companies. Abelson denied the charges, which were never proven. “Back in the 1960s, people used to threaten to punch me in the nose when I said something negative about a company,� responded Abelson to the Washington Post. “Now we live in different times. The suit is obviously an attempt to keep me quiet.�

Today’s business journalists should take the same tactic. Don’t be intimidated by the bullies of corporate America.

Maybe Lutz is still smarting from his negative portrayal in New York Times’ business writer Keith Bradsher’s “High and Mighty,” which heavily criticized the auto industry for making unsafe SUVs.

Analyst: Dow Jones won't be sold anytime soon

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Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine issued a research report on Wall Street Journal and Barron’s parent Dow Jones Inc. in which she said that the company, the subject of takeover speculation in recent years, is unlikely to be sold anytime soon because of the new management put in place, which is being given a chance by the controlling Bancroft family to improve the performance.

However, Fine downgraded the company from ‘neutral’ to ‘sell,’ meaning all of the reporters and editors who work for the company and own the stock in their 401(k) plan took a hit to their retirement savings. The stock fell 3.2 percent, but is still up 7 percent for the year.

Lauren Rich FineThe Associated Press reported, “Fine said in a note to investors that the shares looked expensive and that ad momentum could be slow in the second half of the year. She also said that while Dow Jones shares are occasionally bolstered by speculation that the company could be sold, she said this was unlikely in the near term. The Bancroft family group retains voting control of Dow Jones through a special class of stock.

“Fine said the fact that Dow Jones hasn’t raised its first-quarter earnings outlook, despite good ad linage growth, ‘suggests weaker ad rate realization, and higher costs.’”

Read the story here.

Dow CEO: Ad linage at WSJ up in first two months

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New Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino said Wednesday at an investor conference that advertising for the company’s flagship Wall Street Journal newspaper has been up 13 percent in the first two months.

Dwight Ostricher of Dow Jones Newswire reports, “‘We took meaningful market share away from our primary print competitors in 2005 and so far in 2006 are doing the same,’ Zannino said Wednesday at the Bank of America media, telecommunications and entertainment conference here.

Richard Zannino“The Journal has seen solid advertising gains in the technology and financial sectors as well as in general business to business, he said, while health-care and pharmaceutical advertising was soft.

“The company, which also publishes this newswire, said in January that ad lineage at the U.S. edition of the Journal should rise by a mid-single-digit percentage in the first quarter.”

Ostricher also later reported, “Zannino said the company would look for merger-and-acquisition opportunities in the enterprise media group, which includes Dow Jones Newswires, Dow Jones Indexes and Dow Jones Licensing Services.

“He added that consumer media, which includes the print and online version of the Journal and Barron’s, as well as the MarketWatch online financial news concern, will benefit from the Weekend Journal turning profitable and the end of losses for international Journal editions. Zannino added that the company will lose a ‘little bit’ of money in Europe and turn a profit in Asia in 2006.”

Read the wire story here.

Could Google or Yahoo buy Dow Jones?

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JupiterMedia CEO Alan Meckler muses online that eventually Google or Yahoo will need to have content on their respective financial information sites if they are to compete for the eyes of those who want that information. He theorizes that eventually that content could come from Dow Jones, parent company of The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s.

Alan MecklerWrites Meckler, “In the end, however, the weakness of both Yahoo and Google is content. They both are dependent on sources that they do not own. Someday ownership will matter. Ownership of content makes somebody king. I have witnessed this fact since starting in business in 1971. I have been successful owning content for 36 years, and now see content weaving its magic in the image space as Jupitermedia has moved into a supreme position against much larger image organizations soley because of its content ownership position (and a big help from an incredibly productive and talented team that has been with me for many years).

“Google and Yahoo will slug it out for years to come. But one of them is going to buy significant media assets and content. It will be interesting to see which one makes the first move. Perhaps Dow Jones makes sense?”

Read his entire comment here.

WSJ is a beacon compared to Yahoo! and Google Finance

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Christine Brendle, the managing director of Wall Street Journal Asia, is not worried that the business newspaper faces increased competition from online finance Web sites such as Yahoo! and Google Finance, launched last week.

Christine BrendleIn an interview in India, Brendle said, “When people get on Google or Yahoo or when they get on the Net, they need a beacon. They need to have guidance and Dow Jones and its brands like Far Eastern Economic Review, Wall Street Journal, Market Watch, Barron’s they provide immediate information on what content people expect and the trust people have in this content.

“Sometimes online you can get an encyclopaedia that tells you things that are blatantly wrong. It helps to have these brands because they are a guarantor for quality and therefore I am absolutely convinced that they will stay and grow online because they will present the same benefits that are in the print which is a certain guarantee of integrity and quality.”

Read more of the interview here.

Subpoena requests firm's contact with eight financial reporters

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The New York Post is reporting Tuesday that a subpoena to research firm Gradient Analytics asked for records of all e-mail and phone contacts Gradient has had with approximately eight financial reporters.

The eight reporters are Marketwatch’s Herb Greenberg, Mad Money host Jim Cramer, Dow Jones Newswire’s Carol Remond, Bethany McLean of Fortune magazine, Jesse Eisinger of the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth MacDonald of Forbes Magazine, former Barron’s editor Cheryl Strauss Einhorn and Roddy Boyd from The Post, who wrote the article.

New York PostBoyd wrote, “An individual familiar with the situation said Gradient planned on seeking the permission of the reporters’ news organizations before complying with the order.”

In February, Greenberg disclosed that he had been subpoenaed by the SEC and criticized the action. Afterward, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox backed off the subpoenas, saying the regulatory agency needed to develop a policy on when it would seek information from financial reporters.

The investigation centers around Gradient and Rocker Partners LP and their alleged attempts at driving down the price of online retailer Overstock.com. The president of Overstock, Patrick Byrne, has been criticizing the actions of reporters for using information from short sellers in their writing.

Former BusinessWeek writer Gary Weiss posts on his site about the latest subpoenas. He writes, “So it stands to reason that, being singularly ineffective at punishing real transgressions, the SEC would do an outstanding job of wasting its time. Thus the current witch hunt against the handful of journalists who engage in tough financial journalism.”

Why hasn't this story been reported by more media outlets?

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I should have known better. After finding stories about executive compensation at Reuters and McGraw-Hill in the past 24 hours on the Internet, I did a quick search to see if any of the other business journalism-related companies had filed a proxy statement. Dow Jones, the parent of the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, filed its proxy on Friday afternoon with the SEC.

Except for a short Dow Jones newswire story, the proxy has gone unreported. (I did a Lexis/Nexis search and found nothing. A Google search turned up the Dow Jones brief in the Newark Star-Ledger.)

Shame on the Wall Street Journal and other business media outlets for ignoring this story, particularly since there has been a change at the top of the company announced earlier this year that was widely written about. How quickly we seem to forgot.

So here are the interesting details:

Peter KannOutgoing CEO Peter Kann’s total compensation (salary, bonus, long-term incentive plan, all other compensation) in 2005 was $2.92 million, up 3.6 percent from his 2004 total compensation of $2.82 million. The biggest increase was in his bonus, which rose 10 percent to $918,500 from $835,000.

Richard ZanninoIncoming CEO Richard Zannino, who was the executive vice president and COO, saw his total compensation rise 6.6 percent to $2.0 million, from $1.88 million in 2004. His bonus also increased by 10 percent to $638,000. I could not find anything in the compensation committee report that showed what his CEO salary will be. His 2005 salary was $756,653, up about $30,000 from 2004. I would imagine that his CEO salary will be near what Kann was paid.

Zannino also receved 48,100 stock options in 2005 with a value between $1.24 million and $3.15 million.

Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger received total compensation of just more than $1 million in 2005, up 9.5 percent from the $940,589 he received in 2004. Steiger’s bonus rose $25,000, or 14.3 percent, to $200,000. His base salary was $528,327, up slightly from 2004.

Read the proxy here.

If anyone knows where else this has been reported on Saturday or Monday, please let me know. I’d like to give someone credit for writing this. I’ve done some pretty thorough searches though and came away disappointed that this story has been ignored — except for the Dow Jones wire story that ran on Friday afternoon.

I also bet there are reporters at the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and at MarketWatch — all Dow Jones subsidiaries — who are extremely interested in these details.