However, Gannett does have another more tax friendly arrow in its quiver to return money to shareholders via stock buybacks. During the third quarter, the company repurchased 2 million shares, at an average cost of about $17.50 per share. Year to date, Gannet has repurchased 8 million shares.
Debt, which was a huge issue for the company less than four years ago, no longer is. At quarter end, total debt stood at $1.63 billion, down from more than $3.8 billion at the end of 2008. Part of the company's rebirth certainly has to do with paying down these obligations, and making the company leaner in the process.
Still, there's not a whole lot of love for Gannett on the Street. Analysts have routinely disliked, or have been neutral on this stock since it nearly imploded in early 2008, and most are still skeptical. They were skeptical at $2, at $10, and here again at $18 and change.
But that's what makes value investing so interesting; find a stock that's hated and misunderstood, and identify valid and compelling reasons that everyone else is wrong (not just to be different; often stocks are disliked for good reason.) You won't always be right, and you need to do your homework, but the rewards can be great.
At the time of publication the author was long GCI.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.