Sub-Prime-media: After the market closed today, shoes started falling at Primedia.
1. Announced it “is exploring” splitting what’s left of Primedia into two publicly traded companies. Company “A” would be comprised of its Consumer Guides and Enthusiast Media segments. Company “B” will be its Education segment (Channel One).
2. Announced that its earnings will be lower than last year’s by a “high single to low double-digit” percentage. (In other words, its earnings will be smaller than a breadbox.)
3. CEO Kelly Conlin will be stepping down as CEO immediately, if not sooner.
In other words, what’s left of Primedia is for sale.
The story of Primedia is a sad tale of Gordon Gekko types buying up “media properties” and hiring “new media” guys who fired the only people who actually knew how to make money. Several people got rich selling companies to Primedia. Lots of people lost jobs. Lots of investors lost lots of money. Investment bankers got some great fees. Some executives made huge salaries for fiddling with the company while Rome burned.
And then it all went away.
Update: And, apparently, the shareholders of VNU are restless with the performance of that company’s Dutch management, as well. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has the details.