Dow Jones Buys Other Half of SmartMoney from Hearst

Dow Jones & Co. is getting deeper into the magazine business, becoming the sole owner of SmartMoney, the personal finance magazine it has co-published with Hearst Corp. since 1992. The News Corp. (NWS) unit announced Tuesday that it is buying out Hearst's 50% stake in the title, confirming reports of an imminent deal that have circulated in recent days.

Just why Dow Jones would want to own more, rather than less, of SmartMoney is unclear. Like other personal finance magazines, it has taken a royal beating in the recession, with its ad pages falling 22.9% last year and 30% the year before that. Its 2009 total of 387 pages is less than half as many as it carried in 2004. That steep fall was the major reason DailyFinance contributor Doug McIntyre included SmartMoney among the 12 media brands he predicted would go out of business in 2009.

The magazine managed to survive the year, and Dow Jones evidently believes that it can restore some vitality to SmartMoney by leveraging it against the company's other financial news and advice brands, particularly The Wall Street Journal, but also Barron's, MarketWatch and FiLife. In another possible sign of bullishness on magazines, the company recently announced plans to increase the frequency of WSJ, the glossy lifestyle supplement to the Journal, from four to six times in 2010.

Here's an excerpt from the memo announcing the acquisition:
Dow Jones & Company Acquires SmartMoney Franchise From Hearst Corporation

SmartMoney Strengthens Dow Jones' Broad Commitment to High-Quality Personal Finance News and Commentary; Consumers Seek Reliable Financial Planning Information

NEW YORK, March 2, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Dow Jones & Company is expanding its portfolio of personal finance content by acquiring the Hearst Corporation's 50% interest in the SmartMoney franchise, bringing Dow Jones' total interest to 100%. The SmartMoney franchise includes SmartMoney magazine, and SmartMoney Custom Solutions, a custom publishing division. SmartMoney has been a partnership between Dow Jones and Hearst since 1991. Financial details about the transaction will not be disclosed.

"SmartMoney is a natural fit within Dow Jones, having carried brand association with The Wall Street Journal since its launch," said Todd Larsen, president of Dow Jones & Company. "SmartMoney is a trusted brand with high quality editorial and a clear focus on personal finance news and information. During this turbulent economy, when many readers are seeking long-term guidance on managing a variety of personal finance issues, the need for high quality content in this space has never been greater. Having the SmartMoney franchise 100% integrated with the Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal teams will provide the avenues for the brand to grow exponentially."

Since its inception in 1992, SmartMoney has provided its readers with practical ideas for saving, investing, and spending. With a current print and online audience of nearly six million, SmartMoney provides in-depth coverage of technology, automotive and lifestyle subjects including travel, fashion, fine wine, and more. The SmartMoney editorial team has earned three National Magazine Awards and was a finalist 14 times. Its editorial team includes three Pulitzer Prize winners.
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