Journal Communications (JRN) is comprised of 7 primarily individual organizations: The Milwaukee Sentinel, Group Newspapers, Television Stations, Radio Stations, Telecommunications, Printing Providers, and Immediate Marketing. The company’s 5 reportable segments do not exactly match these 7 organizations nevertheless, I believe an investor should analyze JRN on the basis of these seven businesses and their constituent homes, rather than as a single going concern with 5 reportable enterprise segments. Further factors for this perception will be outlined underneath. For now, it is adequate to say that if Journal Communications had been to divide into 7 independent general public firms, the mixed market benefit of people businesses would be substantially better than JRN’s recent business price. Merely place, the sum of the areas would be valued far more hugely than the complete.

Journal Communications has an company value of just underneath $1 billion. Pre-tax owner’s earnings are almost certainly around $a hundred twenty five million. So, JRN trades at eight instances pre-tax owner’s earnings. Which is cheap.

Journal’s efficient tax charge is forty%. That is an unusually substantial fee. Journal’s media properties would very likely create far more right after-tax cash flow under diverse ownership. The distinction would be substance but, for any individual other than a hugely leveraged customer, tax cost savings would not be a major thing to consider. When analyzing Journal as a likely concern, it is completely appropriate to handle the entire forty% tax burden as a actuality. These taxes lessen owner’s earnings by $fifty million.

With right after-tax owner’s earnings of $seventy five million and an business benefit of $one billion, Journal’s owner’s earnings produce is seven.5%. Keep in mind, this is the soon after-tax yield. The pre-tax yield is 12.5%. When evaluating a company, it really is very best to use the pre-tax produce for needs of comparison. Very last I checked, the 30 – calendar year Treasury bond was yielding 4.sixty three%. So, looking at JRN’s present earnings by itself, the inventory appears to supply a large margin of protection.

This is specifically real if you take into account the truth that earnings yields offer more defense towards inflation than bond yields. They never offer you perfect protection. But, with stocks, there is at least the likelihood that nominal income flows will improve together with inflation. The cash flows generated by bonds are fastened in nominal terms, and for that reason provide no defense in opposition to inflation.

When evaluating a extended-phrase expenditure, this sort of as a stock, I do not use a price reduction fee of significantly less than eight%. This reduces JRN’s margin of basic safety considerably. Instead of currently being the big difference between 12.five% and 4.63%, Journal’s margin of security is the variation between twelve.5% and 8%. Is this sort of a margin of basic safety enough? Perhaps.

When assessing a prospective investment, I 1st look at the risk of a catastrophic reduction. What is the magnitude? And what is the chance? For my purposes, a catastrophic reduction is defined as any permanent decline of principal. The danger that I have overvalued a business is often increased than my chance of catastrophic reduction, due to the fact I insist upon a margin of basic safety. A catastrophic reduction is one particular that wipes out the complete margin of security.

I can make a bad expenditure with no struggling a catastrophic decline. For instance, most mutual funds are poor investments, because they underperform options. Nevertheless, mutual resources do not usually have a higher chance of catastrophic reduction. In fact, they normally have a low threat of catastrophic reduction, simply because they are hugely correlated to the general market.

It truly is easiest to comprehend this concept if you think of valuing organizations as becoming a great deal like writing insurance policy. Even if truth exceeds your expectations in nine out of each ten cases, a awful misjudgment in the tenth scenario can lead to you wonderful damage. It is not just how many miscalculation you make. It’s also how big they are.

Some shares, like Google (GOOG), trade at prices that permit for catastrophic losses of substantial magnitude. Other stocks, like Journal Communications, trade at charges that only allow for quite modest losses to principal. However, there is also the issue of probability. How very likely is it that a Google shareholder will endure a catastrophic reduction? I don’t know. I am not even willing to hazard a guess.

In the case of Journal Communications, I am prepared to stick my neck out.

I feel an investment in JRN carries a very reduced danger to principal – significantly less than, say, an expenditure in the S&P 500. Why? Because Journal Communications is trading at a quite modest owner’s earnings numerous. But, that is not the only purpose. You shouldn’t seem at Journal solely from a likely problem perspective. JRN primarily consists of commonly saleable homes. The belongings backing shares JRN are quite significant:


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee’s only significant day-to-day and Sunday newspaper. The Sunday version has the highest penetration price (seventy two%) of any Sunday newspaper in the leading 50 U.S. marketplaces. The everyday edition has the 3rd optimum penetration fee (49%) of any everyday newspaper in the prime fifty U.S. marketplaces. The paper has a everyday circulation of 240,000 and a Sunday circulation of 425,000.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also operates 3 websites. and produce marketing earnings. is a subscription – based mostly website.

More than the very last a few many years, each everyday circulation and Sunday circulation have diminished by about 1% every year. Full operate marketing linage has also fallen by a equivalent volume nevertheless, right after accounting for increases in portion operate marketing and preprint parts, it appears there has been no true lessen in whole advertising.

The Journal Sentinel generates approximately $230 million in earnings. Marketing accounts for eighty% of the Journal Sentinel’s earnings (the other twenty% is circulation profits). Advertising revenue is relatively cyclical, and may possibly at present be previously mentioned “standard” amounts.

It truly is challenging to price the Journal Sentinel, because JRN spots the Journal Sentinel and its local community newspapers beneath one reportable section. Even if the figures for the Journal Sentinel were broken out, I would have nevertheless have some problems coming up with an exact determine, due to the fact I am not an skilled on newspapers.

Getting mentioned that, I can’t see how the Journal Sentinel could be worth less than $250 million or a lot more than $five hundred million. If I experienced to set a dollar determine on the Journal Sentinel, it would most likely be in the 250 – $three hundred million variety. I might like to believe this is a conservative estimate, but I do not know adequate about newspapers to be sure. JRN’s failure to split out the quantities for the Journal Sentinel apart from the group newspapers complicates the issue. Nonetheless, I am fairly confident the Journal Sentinel is well worth no less than $250 million.

It’s even more challenging to price JRN’s Journal Local community Publishing Team. It is made up of 43 group newspapers, 41 buyers, and 9 specialized niche publications (automotive, boating, and many others.). The group generates about $a hundred million in revenue. I are unable to benefit this group aside from the Journal Sentinel, simply because of the aforementioned deficiency of disclosure (combining the team with the Journal Sentinel for reporting functions), my lack of ability to uncover enough community info on community newspaper firms, and other these kinds of aspects.

The best I can do is offer an educated guess as to the blended price of JRN’s publishing company. My very best guess is that, taken jointly, the Journal Sentinel and the community newspapers are almost certainly really worth somewhere amongst $three hundred million and $500 million.


Journal Communications owns 38 radio stations. The most crucial of which are: WTMJ-AM Milwaukee, KMXZ-FM Tucson, KFDI-FM Wichita, and KTTS – FM Springfield (MO). All 4 of these stations are number a single in their industry. JRN’s radio stations make about $80 million in profits.

Journal Communications owns 7 tv stations. Virtually all of these stations are ranked as one particular of the leading three in their marketplace. A few are NBC affiliate marketers, three are ABC affiliates, and a single is a Fox affiliate. JRN owns two stations in Milwaukee, two in Idaho, a single in California, a single in Michigan, and a single in Nevada. DIY home design Journal’s Television set stations create about $90 million in earnings.

Once again, it really is too tough for me to value JRN’s Television stations and radio stations separately. Taken with each other, I feel they’re worth someplace between $250 and $450 million.


JRN owns a 3,800 mile network in the Fantastic Lakes area. Norlight Telecommunications generates about $a hundred and fifty million in profits. I am very hesitant to make any makes an attempt to benefit this division, because I will not understand the telecom organization nicely enough. Possessing stated that, I do not see how it could be really worth a lot less than $350 million.


I never like the printing companies and direct marketing enterprise at all. I have no notion how to worth them. They do have revenues although so, they are most likely worth anything to a person. Revenues from these two companies exceed $a hundred million, but they are not extremely rewarding.

True Estate

JRN owns a astonishing sum of unencumbered real estate. For the most component, these kinds of houses are intently tied to one particular of JRN’s functioning organizations. As lengthy as JRN continues as a going issue, considerably of the genuine estate could not be marketed. Just to give you some notion of the extent of these qualities, it appears JRN owns a minor less than two million square ft – significantly of which is in or around Milwaukee. I can not precisely price this kind of genuine estate. As I mentioned, significantly of it is intently tied to functioning routines. However, buildings in urban locations can sometimes be converted to other uses.

It rarely issues even though. Journal Communications is probably to stay a going issue for some time, and as prolonged as it does, it is not likely to dispose of these kinds of belongings.


So, what is JRN well worth? It truly is difficult to say. The recent company worth is all around $one billion, which is evidently as well low. My most conservative estimates for the publishing, broadcasting, and telecom firms alone incorporate up to $900 million. I think these are quite conservative estimates. Making use of far more sensible estimates, I can not get there at a worth of less than $1.25 billion for JRN’s constituent components. This is correct whether or not I carry out an intrinsic value analysis on the total business, or apply some form of earnings, revenue, or EBITDA multiple to every single company separately.

Journal Communications is almost certainly well worth someplace amongst $one.25 billion and $2 billion. I am quite pessimistic about the newspaper organization for that reason, I would lean towards the $one.twenty five billion determine (which assumes a bit declining revenues). Any kind of revenue progress would substantially alter the valuation. If this kind of expansion will take place, JRN is incredibly undervalued at these amounts. Even so, I’m not sure there will be any growth at all.

Journal Communications voting composition will possibly discourage the best system of action: breaking up the firm. JRN ought to spin off the local community newspapers, the Television set stations, the radio stations, and the telecom business. The printing solutions and immediate marketing companies ought to also be disposed of in some way. These are truly quite diverse organizations. There are handful of great causes for trying to keep them collectively, and many good reasons for separating them.

Newspapers, radio, and Television all encounter distinct challenges. They need diverse administrators who have comprehensive management above cash allocation and who are compensated dependent on the efficiency of their company, not on the efficiency of a hodge-podge of a variety of media houses. Breaking JRN up will make it easier to handle and will make it less complicated for recent house owners to dispose of their shares at far more favorable rates should they desire to.

If these organizations traded as 5 or 6 diverse community businesses, it is quite not likely their mixed industry cap would be considerably less than $1 billion. It could not even be required for them to be publicly traded. There may possibly be customers for this sort of qualities, if JRN’s homes ended up separated into widespread perception collections.

But, none of this is very likely to occur. Personnel handle JRN (they sustain management by means of the possession of shares with disproportionate voting legal rights). No one particular intrigued in shaking things up will take a stake in this organization, due to the fact he would be not able to impose his will. I are unable to think about management ever embarking on these kinds of a sweeping undertaking without having some prodding from the outdoors.

JRN has nearly no draw back. Sadly, it isn’t going to seem to be to have a great deal of upside either. There is a real hazard traders will see their returns wither absent as the time it will take to recognize the benefit in Journal Communications proves pricey. Time is the enemy of the trader who buys this sort of company at this variety of price tag.

Objectively, I have to acknowledge JRN is undervalued. But, I am not sure it’s grossly undervalued – and I am certain there are greater lengthy term investments.