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News Corp.: Most Undervalued Stock Is Now a Buy

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Whenever I write about News Corp. (NWS - Get Report) I get yawns from readers.

It doesn't matter whether I'm bullish or bearish. It doesn't matter whether I'm talking about politics or avoiding the subject. News Corp. is just something investors don't want to read about, a company they're tired of. The stock has been a laggard so long, they're past hearing.

But bear with me. I'm going to try to make you some money here.

Since announcing on June 28 it will split into two units -- print and broadcasting -- NWS is up 13.5%. I think this wildly understates what is possible once the split is finished.

The publishing assets took a $2.9 billion writedown in its June quarter, notes Yahoo! Finance, but they're going to be dumped in the break-up. What you're left with is a vertically integrated broadcasting company much like Disney (DIS - Get Report).

Count Fox, the National Geographic Channel and Dow Jones among its assets. There's a movie studio, a sports division, television production, plus TV channels, cable networks and satellite broadcasting assets necessary for distribution.

This is what the old movie studios had, back in the day. What happens when you put a Fox TV show or movie on a Fox broadcasting or cable channel? You pay yourself and you make money every time.

My own back-of-the-hand estimate is that NWS makes, in an ordinary year, about $3 billion in net income. Its current market cap is near $60 billion, but some of that is going into the publishing unit. Say they claim that's worth $10 billion -- there are profitable book publishing and magazine units in there, as well as The Wall Street Journal.

Now you've got roughly $3 billion in profit on a market cap of $50 billion. Sell your shares in the publishing company the moment the spinoff happens, and you have a happy dividend, plus a company that looks more like Disney at a lower multiple.

Then there's the potential.

As a broadcaster, News Corp. doesn't innovate. It copies. This is not a criticism. News Corp. sees what is succeeding, then gives it a tweak that makes its operation more profitable. Fox News only looks like a clone of CNN. It is, in fact, a talk radio station, which means it costs much less to run, and is much more profitable. You don't really need the print assets to feed what passes for a news hole there.
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