24/7 Wall St. CEO Of The Year Finalist: Rupert Murdoch Of News Corp (NWS)

December 9, 2007 by Douglas A. McIntyre

24/7 Wall St. has evaluated over 200 CEOs in order to select it CEO of the Year. Six finalists were chosen from the list. The measurements were based on company stock performance for the last two years, innovation, financial results, and the quality of the competition that each company faces in its markets. We also took into consideration whether the corporation was operating in an industry with special challenges.

Even if Rupert Murdoch had not bought social network giant MySpace for what appears to have been the absurdly low price of $580 million and had not made his audacious buy-out of Dow Jones (DJ), the head of News Corp (NWS) would have been remembered as one of the great media barons.

Shares in News Corp are flat this year, but rivals including Disney (DIS), Time Warner (TWX), and CBS (CBS) are down.

Murdoch has done an excellent job of managing a complex, global company while continuing to expand. In the September quarter, revenue moved from $5.9 billion last year to $7.1 billion in 2007. With the exception of the corporation’s small book and magazine operations, all of the company’s divisions grew. The company’s film and cable businesses did particularly well. The Fox Network has turned out to be one of News Corp’s biggest and best creations. Wall St. sometimes forgets that there were only three viable networks just a few years ago. Operating income is also up in the company’s newspaper businesses, which is highly unusual in the current climate.

Murdoch deserves extra points for guts. Most media companies are simply managing their current assets. MySpace is likely to have revenue of over $700 million this year, impressive given what Murdoch paid for it a short time ago. Smaller rival Facebook was recently valued at $15 billion.

And, Murdoch fought a long but winning battle to buy Dow Jones and may well create one of the largest business news platforms in the world by marrying it with his new Fox Business operations. It remains to be seen whether News Corp can justify the $5 billion price for Dow Jones, but very few chief executives would have even dreamed of making the acquisition.

Douglas A. McIntyre is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of Financial World Magazine which began the CEO of the Year Awards in 1981. He is also the former president of Switchboard.com