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June 24, 2008 / Toby Dayton

Landmark Will Be Underwhelmed By Offers For The Employment Guide

As I have written about previously, Landmark Communications has put its media assets up for sale. In addition to The Weather Channel, the crown jewel of the group, the private equity firm owns a bunch of small and medium-sized dailies and community newspapers, shoppers and weeklies, and the Employment Guide. Lehman Brothers, who is handling the transaction, has split the assets into two groups – The Weather Channel and Weather.com in one group, and eveything else in the other.

Bids for the The Weather Channel were due a few weeks ago, and according to Multichannel.com, Time Warner has dropped out of the auction and Landmark has entered into exclusive negotiations with a consortium that includes NBC Universal, Blackstone, and Bain. Their bid reportedly included $1.8 billion in equity and $1.7 billion in debt for a total of $3.5 billion, well below the $5 billion asking price.

If the top bid for a premium asset like the Weather Channel was 30% below expectations, wait until the bids come in for Landmark’s daily and weekly newspapers. I’d be surprised if the print assets end up being sold as a block, and my guess is that the Employment Guide will fetch a price somewhere between 25-50% of the asking price. Using a very quick and crude, back-of-the-envelope calculation, I’d guess that that number is somewhere between $25-$35 million (my best-case estimate is revenue of $50-$60 million, slightly positive EBITDA (maybe) although they get favorable distribution subsidies from Dominion, the distribution company also owned by Landmark, and break-even or negative net income. I will say, however, that if the Employment Guide is struggling as badly as they appear to be in the markets where we’ve seen them, these numbers are all way too optimistic). The numbers are obviously just a guess, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months.

6 Comments

  1. J. LeBel / Jul 3 2008 5:19 pm

    Toby, when are you going to get some fact to support your claims about EmploymentGuide? You continue to post incorrect information about our business practices, our business model. Let me address a few your claims:

    1) EG revenues total only $60M annually — Way, Way Low! Becasue we are privately owned you do not get the privelege knowing exactly

    2) EG print publications are “thin” — It is true we are seeing a decline in print business as are ALL print media solutions focusing on classified advertising revenue. Our model has been out front in developing a valuable online solution across multiple industries — CareersInGear.com – the top rated Driver Recruitment Website; HealthCareerWeb.com – an upstart medical professional recruitment website with WEB 2.0 features; WiserWorker.com – an upstart focusing on the older worker which will make up 1 of 5 workers by the year 2012 according to the AARP; and enhancing our flagship EmploymentGuide.com.

    Being proactive and shifting our focus from the diminishing returns on our print business not only is a good business decision from a cost standpoint, but also answers the demand for our customers and readers to make access to career opportunities easier through online portals.

    Our Web-Based solutions are not only less expensive than the print alternatives, but also more valuable to advertisers and jobseekers alike.

    Of course you already knew that.

    And, as an aside, our electronic suite is growing at fantastic rate.

    3) Scam ads — It is true that on a few occasions some of the ads placed by advertisirs have been less than aboveboard. However, our policy is to advise readers to be sure to investigate any opportunity listed in the “Business Opportunity” section as legitimate and reputable before sending any money. it is printed clearly in a highly visible disclaimer in everyne of our 75 market’s publication.

    4) One of the great aspects of our parent company, Landmark Communications, is that each of its individual entities operates independently of each other. Dominion Enterprises which operates many titles and associated websites and auto dealer services, canot be linked to The Weather Channel except that we fall under the Landmark umbrella. To insinuate as one of your Blog posts does that The Employment Guide is in any way involved in an alleged sexual harrassment suit becasue of that distant relationship to Landmark is absurd.

    I wish you the best of luck in your business, but offer the following unsolicited advice:

    Rather than bash your competition for being successful, build value in your own product suite. If you percieve improprieties in the way any of your competition operates, ask some questions, do some research before inappropriately attacking it without any real knowledge.

    My estimation is that posts like these hurt your credibility and damage the reputation of good jobseeker services such as those JobDig provides.

  2. J. LeBel / Jul 3 2008 12:19 pm

    Toby, when are you going to get some fact to support your claims about EmploymentGuide? You continue to post incorrect information about our business practices, our business model. Let me address a few your claims:

    1) EG revenues total only $60M annually — Way, Way Low! Becasue we are privately owned you do not get the privelege knowing exactly

    2) EG print publications are “thin” — It is true we are seeing a decline in print business as are ALL print media solutions focusing on classified advertising revenue. Our model has been out front in developing a valuable online solution across multiple industries — CareersInGear.com – the top rated Driver Recruitment Website; HealthCareerWeb.com – an upstart medical professional recruitment website with WEB 2.0 features; WiserWorker.com – an upstart focusing on the older worker which will make up 1 of 5 workers by the year 2012 according to the AARP; and enhancing our flagship EmploymentGuide.com.

    Being proactive and shifting our focus from the diminishing returns on our print business not only is a good business decision from a cost standpoint, but also answers the demand for our customers and readers to make access to career opportunities easier through online portals.

    Our Web-Based solutions are not only less expensive than the print alternatives, but also more valuable to advertisers and jobseekers alike.

    Of course you already knew that.

    And, as an aside, our electronic suite is growing at fantastic rate.

    3) Scam ads — It is true that on a few occasions some of the ads placed by advertisirs have been less than aboveboard. However, our policy is to advise readers to be sure to investigate any opportunity listed in the “Business Opportunity” section as legitimate and reputable before sending any money. it is printed clearly in a highly visible disclaimer in everyne of our 75 market's publication.

    4) One of the great aspects of our parent company, Landmark Communications, is that each of its individual entities operates independently of each other. Dominion Enterprises which operates many titles and associated websites and auto dealer services, canot be linked to The Weather Channel except that we fall under the Landmark umbrella. To insinuate as one of your Blog posts does that The Employment Guide is in any way involved in an alleged sexual harrassment suit becasue of that distant relationship to Landmark is absurd.

    I wish you the best of luck in your business, but offer the following unsolicited advice:

    Rather than bash your competition for being successful, build value in your own product suite. If you percieve improprieties in the way any of your competition operates, ask some questions, do some research before inappropriately attacking it without any real knowledge.

    My estimation is that posts like these hurt your credibility and damage the reputation of good jobseeker services such as those JobDig provides.

  3. Toby Dayton / Jul 16 2008 10:13 pm

    J. LeBel – Thank you for your comments and I very much appreciate your taking the time to make them. I do, however, have a few comments in response.

    First, as to my revenue estimates for the Employment Guide, I clearly stated that they were estimates. I obviously do not have information as to what the Guide’s revenue is. Without a doubt, my guess of $50-60 million in annual sales might be low (or maybe even high), but my suspicion is that it’s pretty close. And whatever it is in 2008, I have no doubt that it will be lower in 2009.

    Second, the Guide’s paper is thin and getting thinner every quarter. We track very closely the page counts for all the weeklies around the country, as well as many dailies, and the Employment Guide is thin by anyone’s definition. And to say that ALL (your caps) printed publications are struggling in the current environment and getting thinner is patently absurd. JobDig is not only steadily adding page count in almost every market we’re in, we are also launching JobDig in new markets around the country almost every month. The dailies and the Employment Guide might be struggling, but it’ds not because print is a dying media channel. Print is a terrific channel for companies who know how to deliver value to readers and employers.

    Third, your comments about the scam ads that appear in the Employment Guide are a joke. You state that, “On occasion, some of the advertisers have been less than above board.” The company/criminal that runs the postal ads in the Guide runs them every single week in every single edition of the Guide in every single Employment Guide market, and often runs more than one ad in each edition. This crook is ripping off your readers (however few remain) every week in every market you serve. You know it, everyone in your company knows it, your readers know it, and the few remaining employer advertisers who run ads in the Guide know it (or at least should know it). To absolve your company of guilt by stating that there is a disclaimer printed near the fraudulent ads is outrageous and nauseatingly offensive. Your company is knowingly aiding and abetting criminal behavior, and you should be ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated for even attempting to defend the practice in any way shape or form.

    Fourth, in my blog post about the sexual harassment lawsuit pending against the Weather Channel, I did not make any attempt whatsoever to insinuate that the suit had anything to do with the Employment Guide other than the fact the Landmark owns both companies. Reread the blog post more carefully before you accuse me of something I did not do.

    And finally, thanks for your thoughts about how I should be spending my time. Your comments are duly noted and totally disregarded. I spend the vast majority of my time building a terrifically successful company that delivers a phenomenal value proposition to both employers and jobseekers alike. I also find it extremely worthwhile and valuable to write and maintain a blog about our industry, the media landscape, advertising, and a variety of other topics that I feel my readers might find interesting and informative. When the various players in the recruitment advertising landscape warrant a post in my mind, because of something they did or did not do that is either a positive or negative, or otherwise noteworthy in some way, I will write about it. The posts that ‘bash’ the competition are written because the company or person being ‘bashed’ deserve to be bashed. It just so happens that most daily newspapers and the Employment Guide do things that warrant a justifiably negative blog post in Diggings. (like, for example, paper delivery guys who work for the Employment Guide following our route drivers around Omaha and throwing JobDig papers away after we’ve delivered them to our own boxes and racks. But that’s a blog post for another day in the not too distant future).

    So again, J. LeBel, thanks for your comments and concern about my credibility and reputation, but I think I’ve got it covered.

  4. Toby Dayton / Jul 16 2008 5:13 pm

    J. LeBel – Thank you for your comments and I very much appreciate your taking the time to make them. I do, however, have a few comments in response.

    First, as to my revenue estimates for the Employment Guide, I clearly stated that they were estimates. I obviously do not have information as to what the Guide's revenue is. Without a doubt, my guess of $50-60 million in annual sales might be low (or maybe even high), but my suspicion is that it's pretty close. And whatever it is in 2008, I have no doubt that it will be lower in 2009.

    Second, the Guide's paper is thin and getting thinner every quarter. We track very closely the page counts for all the weeklies around the country, as well as many dailies, and the Employment Guide is thin by anyone's definition. And to say that ALL (your caps) printed publications are struggling in the current environment and getting thinner is patently absurd. JobDig is not only steadily adding page count in almost every market we're in, we are also launching JobDig in new markets around the country almost every month. The dailies and the Employment Guide might be struggling, but it'ds not because print is a dying media channel. Print is a terrific channel for companies who know how to deliver value to readers and employers.

    Third, your comments about the scam ads that appear in the Employment Guide are a joke. You state that, “On occasion, some of the advertisers have been less than above board.” The company/criminal that runs the postal ads in the Guide runs them every single week in every single edition of the Guide in every single Employment Guide market, and often runs more than one ad in each edition. This crook is ripping off your readers (however few remain) every week in every market you serve. You know it, everyone in your company knows it, your readers know it, and the few remaining employer advertisers who run ads in the Guide know it (or at least should know it). To absolve your company of guilt by stating that there is a disclaimer printed near the fraudulent ads is outrageous and nauseatingly offensive. Your company is knowingly aiding and abetting criminal behavior, and you should be ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated for even attempting to defend the practice in any way shape or form.

    Fourth, in my blog post about the sexual harassment lawsuit pending against the Weather Channel, I did not make any attempt whatsoever to insinuate that the suit had anything to do with the Employment Guide other than the fact the Landmark owns both companies. Reread the blog post more carefully before you accuse me of something I did not do.

    And finally, thanks for your thoughts about how I should be spending my time. Your comments are duly noted and totally disregarded. I spend the vast majority of my time building a terrifically successful company that delivers a phenomenal value proposition to both employers and jobseekers alike. I also find it extremely worthwhile and valuable to write and maintain a blog about our industry, the media landscape, advertising, and a variety of other topics that I feel my readers might find interesting and informative. When the various players in the recruitment advertising landscape warrant a post in my mind, because of something they did or did not do that is either a positive or negative, or otherwise noteworthy in some way, I will write about it. The posts that 'bash' the competition are written because the company or person being 'bashed' deserve to be bashed. It just so happens that most daily newspapers and the Employment Guide do things that warrant a justifiably negative blog post in Diggings. (like, for example, paper delivery guys who work for the Employment Guide following our route drivers around Omaha and throwing JobDig papers away after we've delivered them to our own boxes and racks. But that's a blog post for another day in the not too distant future).

    So again, J. LeBel, thanks for your comments and concern about my credibility and reputation, but I think I've got it covered.

  5. Toby Dayton / Jul 16 2008 10:13 pm

    J. LeBel – Thank you for your comments and I very much appreciate your taking the time to make them. I do, however, have a few comments in response.

    First, as to my revenue estimates for the Employment Guide, I clearly stated that they were estimates. I obviously do not have information as to what the Guide's revenue is. Without a doubt, my guess of $50-60 million in annual sales might be low (or maybe even high), but my suspicion is that it's pretty close. And whatever it is in 2008, I have no doubt that it will be lower in 2009.

    Second, the Guide's paper is thin and getting thinner every quarter. We track very closely the page counts for all the weeklies around the country, as well as many dailies, and the Employment Guide is thin by anyone's definition. And to say that ALL (your caps) printed publications are struggling in the current environment and getting thinner is patently absurd. JobDig is not only steadily adding page count in almost every market we're in, we are also launching JobDig in new markets around the country almost every month. The dailies and the Employment Guide might be struggling, but it'ds not because print is a dying media channel. Print is a terrific channel for companies who know how to deliver value to readers and employers.

    Third, your comments about the scam ads that appear in the Employment Guide are a joke. You state that, “On occasion, some of the advertisers have been less than above board.” The company/criminal that runs the postal ads in the Guide runs them every single week in every single edition of the Guide in every single Employment Guide market, and often runs more than one ad in each edition. This crook is ripping off your readers (however few remain) every week in every market you serve. You know it, everyone in your company knows it, your readers know it, and the few remaining employer advertisers who run ads in the Guide know it (or at least should know it). To absolve your company of guilt by stating that there is a disclaimer printed near the fraudulent ads is outrageous and nauseatingly offensive. Your company is knowingly aiding and abetting criminal behavior, and you should be ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated for even attempting to defend the practice in any way shape or form.

    Fourth, in my blog post about the sexual harassment lawsuit pending against the Weather Channel, I did not make any attempt whatsoever to insinuate that the suit had anything to do with the Employment Guide other than the fact the Landmark owns both companies. Reread the blog post more carefully before you accuse me of something I did not do.

    And finally, thanks for your thoughts about how I should be spending my time. Your comments are duly noted and totally disregarded. I spend the vast majority of my time building a terrifically successful company that delivers a phenomenal value proposition to both employers and jobseekers alike. I also find it extremely worthwhile and valuable to write and maintain a blog about our industry, the media landscape, advertising, and a variety of other topics that I feel my readers might find interesting and informative. When the various players in the recruitment advertising landscape warrant a post in my mind, because of something they did or did not do that is either a positive or negative, or otherwise noteworthy in some way, I will write about it. The posts that 'bash' the competition are written because the company or person being 'bashed' deserve to be bashed. It just so happens that most daily newspapers and the Employment Guide do things that warrant a justifiably negative blog post in Diggings. (like, for example, paper delivery guys who work for the Employment Guide following our route drivers around Omaha and throwing JobDig papers away after we've delivered them to our own boxes and racks. But that's a blog post for another day in the not too distant future).

    So again, J. LeBel, thanks for your comments and concern about my credibility and reputation, but I think I've got it covered.

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  1. As Expected, NBC Buys Weather Channel » article » Diggings

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