Even though the stock’s up 26.6% to $23.53 over the last three months, some analysts say the company isn’t about to run out of gas. This morning, Susquehanna Financial Group Vasily Karasyov says he expects “additional upside in the next 12 months” toward a target stock price of $28. That follows yesterday’s upgrade of News Corp stock to “overweight” from “neutral” by Barclays Equity Research’s Anthony DiClemente, who also has a target price of $28. Both analysts like the plan to spin the publishing operations off into a separate company. It should ease investor concerns that CEO Rupert Murdoch will make value-destroying deals, like his $5B acquisition of Dow Jones in 2007. That fear –which held the stock price down in what’s known as the “Murdoch discount” — is “shrinking,” DiClemente says. “We are comfortable that there are no transformative and dilutive acquisitions coming down the pike.”
Karasyov adds that his survey of 34 large companies that made similar spinoffs since 2008 — including Time Warner and AOL, Time Warner and Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision and AMC Networks — shows that the deals resulted in a 12% improvement in the parent company’s market value relative to its earnings. In addition, both analysts say there’s a lot of growth ahead for News Corp’s cable networks, which already account for 62% of the company’s operating income. Murdoch should be able to secure sweet price increases this year from pay TV distributors who want to carry channels including Fox News and News Corp’s regional sports networks. That will “drive the majority of operating income growth” in the fiscal year that ends next June, Karasyov says.