Rupert Murdoch: Spinning Out Of Orbit

When Rupert Murdoch inherited News Corp. in the 1950s, it published one newspaper in Australia. Now it's a global print, TV, satellite, and film giant. And after years of Murdoch's complaints that his creation is undervalued, he's planning to spin off News's satellite assets, including its 40% stake in British Sky Broadcasting, into a separate public company. Two years ago, he sold a stake in Fox Entertainment Group and started trading it separately. So what's left at the core of News Corp. stock? Majority ownership of Fox and the satellite unit--and ownership of a slower growing print business including papers in Britain and Australia, the New York Post, book publisher HarperCollins, and a magazine insert unit. News Corp. stock has jumped 123% since October. No doubt Murdoch is hoping for more, given EchoStar stock's eightfold increase in the past year. Indeed, he may now regret aborting a partnership with EchoStar in 1997. But if satellites don't do it, there's not much left to spin off to keep the stock price moving up at the same rate.

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