The Washington Post Company (WPO), The New York Times Company (NYT), Gannett Co., Inc. (GCI): Are Newspapers Dead?

On the bright side…

One positive note is that The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) and Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI) pay dividends to shareholders at levels that exceed the yield on the broader market.

The S&P 500 Index as a whole yields approximately 2% at current levels. Both these stocks have dividends that eclipse that: The Washington Post pays a 2.2% dividend, and Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI) does its shareholders even better with a yield approaching 4%.

That being said, dividend yields ranging from 2% to 4% aren’t terribly difficult to find, so investors shouldn’t plow into these names just to chase yield.

Moreover, The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) has made measurable progress in developing its mobile footprint. The company reported strong paid digital subscription growth in the first quarter and will desperately need to expand on this going forward. Other newspapers, including The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) and Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), will have to do the same.

Whether the newspaper industry in America is in structural decline remains to be seen. What remains true, however, is that print subscriptions are down, as more consumers ditch traditional print publications in favor of digital media. In turn, print advertising (and consequently, revenue) is down.

America’s publicly-traded newspaper stocks will have to find a way to effectively monetize online subscriptions if they want to avoid the doomed strategy of chasing bigger slices of a shrinking pie. Until that happens, investors would be wise to closely monitor the operating performance of these stocks, while remaining on the sidelines.

The article Are Newspapers Dead? originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Robert Ciura.

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