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Inside Wall Street

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The big newspaper stocks have been quite hot of late, but now interest is spreading to the smaller publishers. Analyst Susan Decker at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities is high on little-known Hollinger International (HLR), a publisher of newspapers in the U.S., Britain, Australia, Canada, and Israel. Among the 131 daily newspapers it turns out are the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Telegraph, and the Morning Sydney Herald. "It's the most attractive stock in our publishing and printing universe," says Decker. Trading at 11, the stock offers further upside potential of at least 30% over the next 12 months, she says.

Controlled by British media magnate Conrad Black, Hollinger has been in an acquisitive mode lately. It is entering a period where it will be able to significantly improve returns from its recently acquired assets and its core business, says Decker, who adds that Hollinger will benefit greatly from the sharp drop in newsprint prices. So Decker sees earnings jumping to 55 cents a share in 1997 from an estimated 27 cents in 1996.

Investment manager Seth Glickenhaus took a big stake in Hollinger. Ditto Bill Priest, co-head of BEA Associates, who thinks Hollinger is the best pure play in global news-media investing.BY GENE G. MARCIALReturn to top

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