Falcone's Harbinger Sells New York Times (NYT) Shares ~ market folly

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Falcone's Harbinger Sells New York Times (NYT) Shares

Philip Falcone's hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners just recently filed an amended 13D and a Form 4 with the SEC in regards to shares of The New York Times (NYT). As per the Form 4, we learn that they sold 1,500,000 shares of NYT on March 26th at a price of $11.20. After the sales, Harbinger is left with 16,886,799 shares remaining. As per the amended 13D, we now see that this totals a 11.68% ownership stake in the company. This is obviously a decrease from the last time when we saw their NYT stake in Harbinger's portfolio. These recent sales come after Falcone's hedge fund reduced their NYT stake back in December and in November as well. So, the selling continues at a very controlled pace and we'll keep our eyes peeled for any future hints of just position size adjusting or a turn in sentiment.

Yet again, Harbinger has sold shares at a loss. They initially acquired their stake between $15-20 per share almost two years ago when they invested over $500 million. While no one can deny the NYT is a tremendous brand and there is an asset there, we've wondered whether or not newspapers are a dying industry. They certainly have some business model problems to address in the near future. While Harbinger has sold shares numerous times, it appears as though they are still confident in the name as they still own a large stake.

Harbinger of course is a multi-billion hedge fund focused on both distressed debt and equity plays. They often take large, concentrated positions in companies and this NYT stake is the perfect example. Other recent news out of the hedge fund includes word that Harbinger plans to build a 4G wireless network. Additionally, last week we found out they had boosted their stake in Sable Mining.

Taken from Google Finance, The New York Times is "a diversified media company that includes newspapers, Internet businesses, investments in paper mills and other investments. The Company is organized in two segments: News Media Group and the About Group." For other investments Falcone's hedge fund has made, you can view the rest of Harbinger's portfolio here.

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