Tag Archives: Wall Street Journal

U.S. Companies Clutching Cash

moneyA report in the Wall Street Journal today found that American companies are hoarding cash, ostensibly while waiting for that proverbial rainy day. In an analysis of company filings, it learned that the 500 largest non-financial companies in the country held $994 billion at the end of the second quarter in cash and cash equivalents, amounting to 9.8 percent of their total assets. A year earlier, they had only $846 billion (7.9 percent) in this category.

And, it looks like this is continuing into Q3. Of the 248 companies that have reported so far, cash holdings are up to 11.1 percent of assets quarter over quarter.

[Via Reuters, photo by AMagill via Flickr]

Murdoch not tipping his hand, insanity?

Rupert Murdoch must have a hell of a strategy, because what he’s doing doesn’t seem to make a damned bit of sense. Yesterday, word got out that he is taking the Ottaway Newspaper chain off the market. With declining newspaper valuations– not to mention that Ottaway is one of the most profitable pieces of the Dow Jones empire (at least before they chopped it with a divestiture in late 2006)– this is probably not stupid. But, ValleyWag suggests that Murdoch is interested in picking up a piece of former internet giant Yahoo!.

Didn’t the Aussie learn something about new media when he bought MySpace, only to have it eclipsed almost immediately by Facebook? Yeah, smart. That was $500 million well-spent. So, now he’ll go after a Web 1.0 has-been, for some purpose that only he can understand. He’s either a genius or a complete moron. Buying MySpace and Yahoo! (which trail Facebook and Google) is like rooting for the Chicago Cubs or the Boston Bruins. You have to know that you’ll never hit the top.

But, Murdoch’s the rich one, not me. So, grain of salt and all that.

New Corp to Keep Ottaway Papers

I worked for Ottaway Newspapers for about 10 minutes a million years ago. Actually, it was exactly six months and 20 days, ending in March 2005. I left Ottaway to become a freelance writer, one of the better decisions I have made. But, I left some friends there, and I have been interested in the newspaper chain’s developments over the past few years. For those not in the know, Ottaway is the community news division of Dow Jones, which was acquired by News Corp last year.

When I worked for Ottaway, it was responsible for 40 percent of Dow Jones’ profits– while the Wall Street Journal was pretty much a break-even enterprise. Since then, of course, Ottaway’s margins have been squeezed. Hell, whose haven’t? The print business is in the crapper, and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change that. But, if News Corp was interested in putting some money into Dow Jones (by which I mean WSJ), selling Ottaway would be a pretty good way to do it. After all, Ottaway has been a pawn on its parent company’s board for quite a while. Shortly after I left, Dow Jones divested itself of several Ottaway newspapers so that the parent could take advantage of a substantial capital loss carryover.

Well, imaginge my surprise today. In my Google News Alert for Ottaway, I saw that the News Corp has taken Ottaway off the market, in an article published by the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror. I can’t say I’m surprised. First, with print in decline, this can’t be a great time to sell a newspaper. Further, Ottaway has been a major money-maker for Dow Jones. So, why the hell would they sell it? Hey, I’ve always maintained that they should sell WSJ.

The bad news for Ottaway: continued dealings with the world according to Rupert.