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Investors don t buy Fairfax revamp
Investors don't buy Fairfax revamp

Investors aren't buying Fairfax Media's revamp.

Yesterday's sharp retreat in the publisher's share price reflects concerns that Monday's overhaul has either come too late or doesn't go far enough.

And Gina Rinehart's steady advance towards inevitable control of the group adds another layer of uncertainty.

The mix was enough to send Fairfax shares tumbling back below 60¢ as the Federal Government worked itself into a lather over the prospect of Rinehart taking the publisher to the political right and the Greens opined on legislating to protect the group's editorial independence.

Both, however, are about to get a fresh lesson in how money talks.

Fairfax isn't overwhelmed with buying support and even allowing for a stand-off over board representation, Rinehart will eventually get her way if she keeps buying.

And while she would rather get into the boardroom sooner rather than later, she could be at 25 per cent of Fairfax in a year's time by exploiting the creep provisions. Kerry Stokes' Seven Network won board control of WA Newspapers four years ago with less.

The investment community has welcomed the Fairfax overhaul, which includes major job cuts and the closure of its biggest newspaper printing presses.

However, it is bedevilled by doubts over whether the initiatives will be enough to withstand the structural and cyclical headwinds confronting the publisher and profitably deliver its flagship mastheads across an expanded digital platform, particularly as digital pay walls are in their infancy and largely unproven.

Merrill Lynch analysts warned that Fairfax's weakened share price failed to "adequately compensate for risk . . . from social media and the new digital subscription model".

Goldman Sachs questioned whether Fairfax's digital advertising revenue could grow fast enough to offset the decline in print ad sales.

Deutsche Bank estimated that that digital revenue would need to grow 16 per cent a year compound over the next three years to offset the forecast 8 per cent decline in print revenue from The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald over the period.

Its numbers have metropolitan digital revenue, including the Australian Financial Review, increasing from $261 million at June 30 to $362 million for 2014-15 but unable to make up for a slide in print revenue from $860 million to $653 million.

  • Samson losing its friends *

US focused energy group Samson Oil and Gas isn't making too many friends among its shareholders.

Three weeks ago, the group pulled plans to issue millions of options and shares to directors following a backlash from investors who complained the issues were excessive.

The board now faces having to work a lot harder to win back support after a disappointing operational update yesterday which sent Samson's shares one-third lower to just 5.9¢, wiping $51 million from its market value.

The advisory detailed latest results from a series of wells at Samson's oil projects in Wyoming and Montana and sparked angry conversations on trading forums, including mutterings about forcing management changes.

Some posts suggested the market had overreacted but Hartleys quickly killed off that optimism, downgrading Samson to reduce and slashing its 12-month target price for the stock from 20¢ to 8¢.

  • Misery meter *

There's been plenty of movement in the misery index over the past year, the economic indicator which measures a country by adding together its inflation and jobless rates.

The higher the reading, the worse off the country. So, no surprise that Australia is well placed with an index reading of 6.7 per cent, down from 8.3 per cent a year ago.

But the Ukraine takes the honours as the least miserable performer with 1.7 per cent, while Venezuela is at the other end of the index with 30.6 per cent. <div class="endnote">

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