Guess Who's Suddenly Bullish on New York Times Co.?

By Fitzgerald, Mark; Saba, Jennifer | Editor & Publisher, August 21, 2008 | Go to article overview

Guess Who's Suddenly Bullish on New York Times Co.?


Fitzgerald, Mark, Saba, Jennifer, Editor & Publisher


Here's something you don't see much of in these challenging times: A once-hostile newspaper agitator turned newspaper champion.

In the past several days Harbinger Capital Partners, which holds roughly a 20% stake in the New York Times Co., has been making bets that shares of the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) will head north in the future.

According to recent documents filed with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday, Harbinger is putting on the table roughly 1.7 million "notional" Class A New York Times shares in a series of equity swaps. The reference prices range from $12.75 to $13.90.

The hedge fund has engaged an unnamed counterparty, which has agreed to pay Harbinger if stock in the New York Times rises over an unspecified time period. Harbinger would collect the difference between the reference prices and the future prices. If Harbinger's hunch turns out to be incorrect and the shares do indeed fall below the reference prices, then the hedge fund has to pay the difference to the counterparty.

At any time, Harbinger can pull out of the agreement, according to SEC filings.

As of late morning, shares of the New York Times were trading down 11 cents to $12.87 near the low end of its 52-week range of $12.08 to $22.56.

Harbinger has been making some wise bets of the course of the year. According to Portfolio.com, the hedge funds' returns for 2007 were up 116% and through the end of June it gained 40%. …

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