You pay for what you get.
Arianna Huffington and Ken Lerer, co-founders of the Huffington Post, are said to be walking away with a combined $80 million to $100 million from an original $2 million per person investment -- but so far AOL stockholders aren't seeing that kind of return.
Since Feb. 1, the price of AOL shares has dropped from $23.85 to $20.89 at yesterday's close.
With 106.7 million shares outstanding, that means AOL has shed $315 million in value over the last five trading days -- which happens to be exactly the same price AOL agreed to pay to acquire HuffPo.
Most media observers viewed it as a pricey deal, since it is based not on the slim profit Huffington Post claimed it made in 2010, on $31 million in revenue, or the $10 million profit it is projecting it will ring up this year on $50 million in estimated revenue, but rather on the $30 million in profit it is predicting for 2012.
"I thought, from a financial valuation, it is a bit of a stretch," said Clayton Moran, who follows the stock for the Benchmark Company.
"Clearly the stock market does not like the acquisition," he said after yesterday's close, when the stock shed another 30 cents, or 1.4 percent. "You could argue that the market reaction is a result of dilution related to the deal but also concerns about possible integration hurdles and future uses of cash."
With the AOL spending spree apparently winding down, attention is focusing on rival Yahoo!, which last year paid $100 million for Associated Content.
One rumor that made the rounds late yesterday was that Henry Blodget's Business Insider, described as Huffington Post for the business set, is in Yahoo!'s sights as an acquisition target.
When we e-mailed Blodget, he said, "I love Yahoo!" When we pressed him to find if that meant he was in talks with the Sunnyvale, Calif., search firm, he declined to bite. "Appreciate the interest, but don't talk about stuff like that."
ESPN The Magazine, led by Editor-in-Chief Gary Belsky, is getting ready to hit the road as part of its previously announced plan to relocate its publishing division from Midtown Manhattan to the sports network's headquarters in Bristol, Conn., about 100 miles north and a two hour-plus commute by train.
Staffers said they had to let the brass know by mid-January if they were willing to make the move, slated for June 21.
"A lot of people are unsettled, especially people with families. They had to make lifestyle decisions," said one insider.
All told, about 100 people are involved. Not clear is how many will actually make the jump.
While ESPN has made its mark capturing an audience of young males, it is also in the midst of trying to entice women to get involved with its print and digital publications and is adding to its ranks.
Tina Johnson was last seen launching the critically acclaimed Women's Health for Rodale, only to be forced to turn it over to the restaurateur who doubles as the editorial director of Men's Health, David Zinczenko.
After freelancing for a few years, she may take a measure of revenge.
She landed at ESPN, where she was working on Rise for Girls as an interim chief editor, but now has been tapped as the editor-in-chief of ESPNw, its new digital push for women over 18.
"It started as a blog and will be officially launched as a full-fledged Web site in April," said Laura Gentile, vice president for ESPNw and ESPN Rise/digital publishing. She said it is aimed at the core female athlete who was competitive in high school or college and still loves sports and wants to remain competitive and participate in sports.
Aimee Crawford, a one- time senior editor at Sports Illustrated, has been hired to be the new editor-in-chief of ESPN Rise for Girls. The magazine was started in 2007 as a one-shot spin-off called Girl and grew into a five times a year magazine.
So far circulation for Rise for Girls is 500,000 -- half of the 1 million circulation of the Rise edition aimed at high school boy athletes that currently appears eight times a year.
"We're going for parity," said Gentile.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/aol_stock_sheds_huffpo_price_tag_el1sFNDBYfHoytknIKnOJL#ixzz1DdUp8BqD
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