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Gannett's Higher Offer Price for Tribune Conjures Memories of 2007 Sam Zell

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it's possible Tribune Publishing (TPUB) is better-looking to Gannett (GCI) than any company on earth.

Gannett's increased bid of $15 per share for Tribune Publishing, made public on Monday, values the owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune at 5.1 times the company's 2016 projected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA. All told, Gannett said it will pay $474 million for Tribune stock and assumed about $390 million in debt.

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That's still a far cry from the 9.9 times earnings that real estate mogul Sam Zell paid to take Tribune private in 2007 when the company also included local television stations headed by Chicago's WGN. Tribune split in 2014, creating the publishing company as well as Tribune Media (TRCO) , which took control of its local TV station group along with its real estate holdings including the Tribune Tower in...