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Investor Says No Surprise If Fairfax Wrote Down Mastheads

By Gavin Lower MELBOURNE--A Fairfax Media Ltd. (FXJ.AU) investor said Thursday investors and bankers were unlikely to be too concerned if the company's board chose to write down the value of its mastheads. The Australian newspaper reported earlier Thursday Fairfax's board was considering a further writedown to the value of its newspaper mastheads, without saying where it got the information. A spokeswoman for Fairfax declined to comment. "It probably would not be a shock to anyone given newspaper circulation is declining," Sean Fenton, portfolio manager at Tribecca Investment Partners, said about the report. "I don't think the board would be doing anything other than recognizing what the market's done," Mr. Fenton said. Fairfax's share price has fallen 21% in 2012 and touched an all-time low of 56.5 Australian cents on June 6. Last August, Fairfax wrote down the value of its mastheads, customer relationships and goodwill by 650.7 million Australian dollars (US$647.8 million) after tax. Mr. Fenton said cash flows at Fairfax were what mattered most to investors. Fairfax publishes The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review newspapers and is a competitor to News Corp. (NWS.AU), the owner of this newswire and The Australian newspaper. Fairfax, like other media companies in Australia, has seen its earnings hit by soft advertising markets. It is also undergoing a structural change as it adapts to consumers switching from newspapers to the internet to access their news. "There's certainly a future for them if they can execute on managing that structural change that's occurring in the market - the shift to online," Mr. Fenton said. Write to Gavin Lower at gavin.lower@wsj.com

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