The publisher of Entertainment Weekly and Better Homes and Garden last week said it will ask investors at a Nov. 11 meeting to amend the charter to allow the current shareholding structure to remain in place in case the company splits into two.
If it does follow through with a formal bust up, it would be following the trail blazed by Tribune, Gannett, E.W. Scripps and A.H. Belo in recent years.
The hope is that the split jump starts the slumping stock price.
Bottom line, in our view, is management and its board plus controlling shareholders must have gotten so frustrated with their underperforming stock price over the last 10+ years that they think breaking up the company will increase shareholder value, said Craig Huber at Huber Research.
Huber said it was a mistake to buy Time Inc. in January 2018 for cash and debt that amounted to $2.8 billion.
Should they go ahead with a break up they no doubt need to be very careful how much debt they put on the magazine division, given the ongoing long-term secular pressures (i.e. putting three turns of debt on magazines is a lot in our opinion.
As Seeking Alpha, a financial newsletter noted this week, Meredith Corp has lost over half of its value this year and has suspended its dividend as its leverage surpasses covenant requirements.
The publicly traded company has two classes of stock, with the Meredith family controlling the board through its class stock. Both the family shareholders and the common stock holders must approve the charter change.