Thursday, January 24, 2013

Will CBS Unload Its Publishing Business?

CBS (NYSE:CBS) CEO Les Moonves has made no secret of his desire to unload the company’s marginally profitable outdoor advertising business. Yesterday, he pulled the trigger by announcing plans to convert its U.S. portion into a real estate investment trust (REIT) and sell the rest.

Investors might pressure him to do the same with the media giant’s Simon & Schuster publishing business.
Simon & Schuster has a long, illustrious history. Founded in 1924 by M. Lincoln Schuster and Richard L. Simon, the business publishes 1,800 titles annually. Its books have won tons of awards including the Pulitzer Prize. Among its current best sellers are Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, which served as the basis for Steven Spielberg’s critically acclaimed movie.

Still, like outdoor advertising, publishing has been a laggard at CBS for years. During the third quarter, the business generated revenue of $210 million on operating income of $38 million, which is worse than the outdoor segment, which reported operating income of $45 million on revenue of $486 million.

In 2012, Simon & Schuster had around 14% market share of bestselling hardcover books tracked by Publisher’s Weekly, ranking third behind Random House, which is part of the German media giant Bertelsmann, and Penguin, a division of the U.K.’s Pearson (NYSE:PSO). Unfortunately for Simon & Schuster, Random House and Penguin are set to merge, which will only added to the competitive pressures facing the business. Plus, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is increasingly snatching up consumer book spending.
All in all, as booksellers go, Simon & Schuster is a fairly small fish on a worldwide basis. As of 2012, Publisher’s Weekly says it ranked 27th among worldwide publishers.

More at Investor Place

No comments: