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March 16, 2006

You Mean Tim & Faith?

Roben Farzad

Actually I'm talking about...

McGraw-Hill (MHP), the company that happens to cut my paycheck. Shares touched an all-time high yesterday on trading floor buzz that good news was in the offing (Full disclosure: I don't own the stock or options...but wish I did). Turns out that glossy magazine and newspaper giant Hearst Corp. agreed to acquire a 20% stake in Fitch Group, the parent of the credit-ratings house, for a rather triple-A rated $592 million. Fitch, you see, is one of the three major debt rating houses, alongside Moody's (MCO) and Standard & Poor's Ratings Services -- which is in the McGraw-Hill brand portfolio. Moody's stock is up 425% since 2001. It's a good time to be in the bond-scoring biz...so much so that a publisher-broadcaster like Hearst is trying to get a (scarce) piece of the action. MHP's mix of publishing, broadcasting and credit research accordingly earned it nice pop on the Fitch news; its shares, which changed hands at $5 in 1990, are now flirting with $60.

Hats off to my ultimate boss, McGraw-Hill CEO Harold "Terry" McGraw III. I see him in the elevator from time to time, and somehow resist the urge to ask if we also own the rights to that 1960's cartoon horse.

12:21 PM

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