Tribune Media says it wants to give its shareholders more value and is going to “explore ways to unlock” its stock value after its latest earnings call.
“Tribune’s assets are valuable, powerful and performing well, as reflected in our full-year 2015 operating results,” said Tribune president and CEO, Peter Liguori. “However, it’s our belief that our current stock price does not reflect the full value of these assets. With the help of outside advisors, we have decided to initiate a process to explore every possible strategic and financial option with one clear goal: to unlock the value of our stock.”
Tribune says the opportunities may include “the sale or separation of select lines of business or assets, strategic partnerships, programming alliances and return of capital initiatives.”
“There is a lot of interest in TV stations,” said Paul Sweeney, an analyst at Bloomberg, which reports Tribune’s stock is down 50 percent in the last year. “Now may be a good time for Tribune to test the waters. The company owns TV stations in some of the largest markets in the country, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Assets like these don’t come on the market everyday.”
Tribune, the largest U.S. operator of broadcast stations by coverage, has also been forced to sit on the sidelines in the latest round of mergers by its competitors. Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. agreed last month to acquire Media General Inc. for $4.6 billion, ending a pact in which Media General and Meredith Corp. were to merge. Media General itself acquired Lin Media LLC late in 2014. Tribune can’t get much bigger because Federal Communications Commission rules don’t allow broadcasting companies to exceed coverage of 39 percent of U.S. television households. Tribune covers 44 percent of the population, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis