Monday, July 28, 2008

The Observer-Dispatch Deathwatch

It would appear the final meltdown of Gatehouse Media is finally underway. While I'm writing this their stock has fallen to a new low of 73 cents, setting the company on a seemingly inexorable journey to the pink sheets.

On the bright side, several kind emailers have pointed out that the liquidation of the company's assets could actually bode well for the area. More than a few employees think the sale of the OD could result in the departure of at least one questionable member of upper management, something they seem to look forward to with considerable relish.

Update: At market close Gatehouse Media had fallen to an unbelievable 66 cents a share. Google Finance has the details.

Update: Editor and Publisher has more on Gatehouse and it's cratering stock:

On another brutal day for the newspaper sector Monday, shares of four chains hit all-time lows, led by a 21% plunge in GateHouse Media Inc. shares to 66 cents a share.

Also hitting new lows were The McClatchy Co., Lee Enterprises, and Sun-Times Media Group.

There was no particular news to explain the sell-off in GateHouse, whose stock has been cratering in the past three weeks. GateHouse (NYSE: GHS) closed at 66 cents, down 18 cents, or 21.43. Floor trading in GateHouse has been suspended, and the stock faces the risk of being de-listed from the Big Board.

Is this the start of the final death spiral?

Update: Analysts seem to think Gatehouse is on it's last legs:

Shares of community newspaper publisher, Gatehouse Media, Inc. (NYSE: GHS), plunged Monday following an across the board ratings cut by Moody's who cited doubts about its ability to service debt.

Gatehouse Media shares lost over 21% of their already low value Monday, dropping to a new 52-week low of $0.66 cents that put the New York-listed community newspaper publisher on a path towards delisting from the Exchange. But somehow shares managed to rally in the aftermarket, rising 24 cents, or 36.3%, to trade at 90 cents, six cents over the day's high.

The dismal news coming out of Moody's Investor Service really came as no surprise, but in reading into the rating agency's comments on Gatehouse Media's debt, the analyst covering the Company had to bite his lip to keep him from commenting about the dividend Gatehouse paid out in the last quarter. At the time, Wachovia Capital Markets analyst John Janedis cut his rating on Gatehouse to "Market Perform" from "Outperform". Janedis issued his rating cut appropriately on Fridy the 13th, perhaps unknowingly signaling an end to the Company.

Read the whole story.

Now is probably an appropriate time to start speculating about who will be buying up Gatehouse's local papers. More importantly, is it likely we'll see a major change in editorial oversight when the buyout happens?