Dow Jones Shifts From Publisher To Subject Of Financial News, May Go On Block

Dow Jones & Co. is known for its reporting of financial news. This week it became the subject, as reports circulate that controlling shareholders of the publishing and financial database company--the parent of the venerable Wall Street Journal--may be thinking of selling the company.

The scenario, first reported Monday by The New York Post--that members of the Bancroft family were contemplating a sale of Dow Jones & Co.--sent shares of the company's stock soaring. The speculation follows a decision by the Dow Jones & Co. board in April allowing the Bancroft clan to maintain their voting control of the company even as they sold off their shares in it.

Meanwhile, an influential Wall Street securities firm--the kind that is normally the subject of Dow Jones' coverage--has issued a report supporting the sale scenario. It also put a price on it.

Securities analysts at Deutsche Bank Tuesday estimated that Dow Jones & Co. would be "worth $45 to $55 in an auction," but nonetheless maintained its target price for the company's stock at $36 a share, noting that it remains unclear whether the Bancroft family is actually ready to sell. The report estimated the chances of Dow Jones & Co. being sold at "50 percent."



On Monday, Dow Jones' shares rose from $37.05 to $41.14 in heavy trading on the New York Stock Exchange. It closed the day of trading on Tuesday at $39.98. Previously, Dow Jones & Co. stock had withered some 14 percent this year, as the business advertising market continued its long period of lethargy.

Deutsche Bank noted that the two most "strategic" buyers of Dow Jones & Co. were newspaper publishers Gannett and The New York Times Co., which could "make their own national newspapers more profitable by rationalizing the printing and distribution" with Dow Jones' flagship publication, The Wall Street Journal. The report ironically pointed out that the Journal currently yields about half the revenue per paper circulated as The Times Co.'s flagship, The New York Times, does.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which publishes The New York Post, the paper that started the new round of speculation, is also mentioned as a potentially interested buyer.

With The New York Times' generated revenue estimated at $4.00 per print paper circulated as opposed to the Journal's $1.93, the Journal is planning next month to unveil a Saturday edition focused more on lifestyle and leisure issues--hoping, no doubt, to sway more consumer advertising its way.

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