Businessweek Archives

Old media catch-up day on utilities and music CDs


Back in March, I posted my own analysis of what was ailing the music industry and it had little to do with online piracy, DRMs or the absence of Michael Jackson. Instead, I tried to look at the big picture. In the consumer entertainment ecosystem, people are spending more time and hard-earned cash on new products like movie DVDs, satellite radio subscriptions and broadband Internet services leaving less of both to spend on or with music CDs.

Some folks at the excellent NPR show Marketplace noticed the post recently and invited me to come on to discuss my theory. You can hear the segment or read a transcript on their site. The piece has also brought some new readers to the old blog entry and comments are piling up. Feel free to jump in.

Also, a couple of weeks ago, I highlighted a commentary by Raymond James strategist Jeffrey Saut on the strong performance and changing dynamics of the utility industry. Once filled with high yielding, stable — even boring — stocks, the industry has been remade by a decade of deregulation and the great power plant bubble at the turn of the century. Because a lot of people may hold utility stocks without knowing much about the changed landscape, we decided to do a magazine piece this week expanding on the theme.

As always, some good stuff gets left on the cutting room floor. In this case, it was a look at what might happen if the federal government clamps down on air pollution. A report (big PDF file) released in January by a coalition of major institutional investors called the Carbon Disclosure Project concluded that utilities like American Electric Power (Symbol:AEP) and Southern Co. (SO), which rely largely on coal for generating power, would be hurt the most while companies like Exelon (EXC) and PG&E (PCG) which have renewable or nuclear facilities could benefit. For example, AEP might have to spend as much as 7% of its revenue on emissions reduction if the country implemented rules like California’s 25% curb. Something to think about while you’re waiting for Old Media to catch up on some more blogs.


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