Sector Snap: Newspapers

NEW YORK (AP) – Shares of newspaper publishers traded mostly higher Friday after the Bancroft family, controlling shareholder of Dow Jones & Co., agreed to meet with Rupert Murdoch over News Corp.'s $5 billion bid for the publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

The Bancrofts initially refused an offer from News Corp., but said late Thursday they were ready to meet with the media mogul to discuss his interest in the company.

Murdoch's current bid for Dow Jones stands at $60 per share.

The Bancrofts said in a statement they are committed to preserving the Journal's independence and integrity and were willing to meet with Murdoch to assess whether he could maintain those qualities. Murdoch has said he would invest in the Journal and ensure its editorial independence.

The family said they would also consider other offers.

Dow Jones said in a statement its board would consider the Murdoch bid as well as other potential alternatives, and it would have a board representative present at the Bancroft family's discussions with News Corp. and Murdoch.

Analyst George Sakellaris of GARP Research Corp. said in an interview that Murdoch's bid, which represents a premium of more than 65 percent over Dow Jones' share price before the offer became public, needed to be high to get the Bancrofts attention.

Up until the Bancroft news broke, the market appeared to be discounting that a deal would happen, according to Sakellaris, but now is leaning more positively toward a potential transaction. Dow Jones' stock closed at $53.31 on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. It jumped to a fresh 52-week high of $61.49 on Friday.

Shares of Dow Jones were up $7.35, or 13.8 percent, to $60.66 in midday trading. The stock had previously traded in a 52-week range of $32.16 to $58.47. News Corp.'s stock added 41 cents to $24.04.

Shares of New York Times Co. added 92 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $26.03. The stock has been trading between $21.54 and $26.90 for the past 52 weeks.

Elsewhere in the sector, Gannett Co. gained 80 cents to $59.62 and Tribune Co. was unchanged at $32.20. Shares of McClatchy Co. added 58 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $28.25. The stock has been trading in an 52-week range of $27.42 to $45.95.