The news about A.H. Belo paying shareholders a special dividend is a bit curious. The company’s board of directors has declared a special cash dividend of 24 cents per share. That’s in addition to the regular quarterly cash dividend of 6 cents per share. Chairman and chief executive Robert Decherd said, “Despite pension funding requirements and various business challenges, the company has consistently generated cash. As a result, we are able to distribute additional cash to shareholders.”
Generating cash and making a profit are two different things. Generally, dividends are distributed when a company is making a profit — which A.H. Belo is most decidedly not. The company has an accumulated deficit on its balance sheet of $316 million. Now let’s take a look at its performance in the first six months of this year. EBITDA was $18 million. That’s a measure of cash generated from operations. Here’s what it spent: $24 million on pension payments (ouch), $4 million on capital expenditures, $3 million on dividends, and $3 million on other working capital and financing needs. Add that all up, and it comes to $34 million. Meaning it had to get $16 million from someplace because its earnings didn’t cover its costs. More bad news: the company saw total revenues decline by 6 percent in the first six months of this year when compared to 2011.
So, yes, the company is generating cash. But the cash is going out faster than it’s coming in.
Here’s some more interesting math: according to a proxy statement filed in April, Decherd owns about 1.6 million series B shares (those are the good ones, worth 10 votes each). He owns more than 333,000 series A shares (the kind the hoi polloi like you and I can buy). So call it 2 million shares total. That means this special 24-cent dividend is worth about $480,000 to him. Nice!
With SMU’s football team hosting Texas A&M tomorrow afternoon, this is the perfect time to share the Aggie joke that is playing out on my block. One of my neighbors has converted a school bus into a venue for tailgate parties. Note the length of the bus.
There are only two more days left to vote for your favorite 10 Most Beautiful candidates from Week 4. Heather Wilson, Jessica Farmer, Chelsea Morehart, Nadia Dabbakeh, and Christina Entsminger need your help.
Go vote, and come back Monday for the final round of voting.
When news came yesterday that a Chinese company would be hired to build Summit Power Group’s coal-gasification project near Odessa that Laura Miller’s been managing, the first question that came to mind was, “Couldn’t they find an American outfit to do that?” Not really, the former Dallas mayor says, basically because putting up the innovative “clean-coal” plant is just too complicated. But Miller’s tale of how China–a country the Pentagon says has launched cyber-attacks against the U.S military and our economic system–wound up taking a lead role in the state-of-the-art, $2.5 billion-plus plant is fascinating.
The Praetorian Building, Dallas’ first skyscraper and a sad building that’s been through many years of neglect, is being slowly torn down piece by piece. This process affects Stone Street Gardens, so the construction crew built a sidewalk shed over the alley to protect people eating outside. It’s a simple structure, just wood, maybe some stain, that’s about it. But the other day, I walked by and saw someone had come along and painted these vibrant pinks and purples on the wall. I was intrigued, but there was no one around to ask about it.
Today, I finally met the man behind the work: Lee Baker. Baker is an artist who will be showing work at the Goss-Michael Foundation’s exhibition RE:DEFINE. The Joule is a sponsor of the exhibition, thus Baker is painting the wall constructed by the group that’s working on the Praetorian.
I asked him what he’s going for with this wall. He said the background colors replicate a sunset and when it’s finished, it will be a cityscape. He said I’d understand more if I went to his website. (You will, too.) He’ll be finished by the 21st, which just so happens to be PARK(ing) Day. So come out to Main Street next Friday, take a look at Baker’s finished work, and check out all the parks. D Magazine‘s spot will be at 1517 Main with a gorgeous mid-century modern book store (with free books, library cards, and a chance to help out DISD students) that will be made possible by the generosity of IKEA and the talented Joslyn Taylor.
Guys, it is surprisingly time consuming to fill out a police accident report when the person who hit your parked car is maybe a ghost. A jerky, no-insurance-information-leaving ghost. And while it took me forever to actually find the police headquarters last night, my non-emergency AT&T-sponsored 911 phone call was answered on the first ring. So there’s that.
I can’t decide if this weekend is busier than most. I think it is, especially with the grand opening of Dallas City Performance Hall. First, check out Peter Simek’s interview with the creator of the LED light curtain. Sarah Jaffe kicks things off this evening, followed by the DC9 At Night, KXT, and Kessler-sponsored Triple Play concert featuring Seryn, The Relatives, and Pleasant Groves. These concerts are ticketed separately, so if you want to attend both, you’ve got to buy two tickets. And it’s finally, finally cool enough for Mai’s, where I can have my first clay pot of the season. It’s also quick, which I love.
Also this evening, the Dallas VideoFest hosts a pre-party in advance of all the excitement two weeks from now. Celebrate 25 years of this eclectic festival with old favorites from past VideoFests, drinks, and food. Everything is included in the ticket price.
By now you have perhaps heard about Barrett Brown’s arrest Wednesday evening. Bethany mentioned it in Leading Off. Wired has a good account of what went down. The video you see here is from the TinyChat session that was underway when the FBI came through the door of Barrett’s tiny Uptown apartment. It’s a surreal scene. As Barrett is apparently wrestled to the floor, one of the other chat participants begins a striptease. Lulz.
I profiled Barrett last year. In the process, I feel like I got to know the guy pretty well. Or at least as well as one can. He’s a tricky fellow to get to know. Sincerity isn’t his default operating mode. He’s full of a nicotine-fueled bluster. And, yeah, sometimes he’s full of heroin, too. Or Suboxone, if that’s all he can get his hands on.
When I was working on my story about Barrett, we spent a lot of time talking about the prospect of his getting arrested. In typical Barrett fashion, he said he was looking forward to getting arrested because it would give him a megaphone to talk about Project PM, the investigation he is (was?) organizing into “the intelligence contracting industry, the PR industry’s interface with totalitarian regimes, the mushrooming infosec/’cybersecurity’ industry, and other issues constituting threats to human rights, civic transparency, individual privacy, and the health of democratic institutions.” Quite simply, though, I think he figured that getting busted by the feds would be cool or romantic or something like that. It would add to the Barrett mystique.
Texas Senators Looking at Longer School Day. School’s out for never? Texas senators are mulling over the thought of a longer school day and a longer school year. Apparently it is helpful to struggling students, and other cities have used government grants and donations from area businesses and individuals.
Anonymous Retaliates Brown’s Arrest. After Anonymous’ spokesperson Barrett Brown was arrested yesterday, a couple of subgroups of the hacker enterprise began plotting their revenge. One released alleged credit card numbers of government employees, the other planned to send many pizzas to the Dallas FBI field office.
They See Dead People. Apparently there wasn’t enough time to purge the voter rolls of all ye dead, so now its possible to vote as a dead guy if you’ve got his registration card. And apparently purging involves sending a letter to the possible dead person asking them if they’re dead. There’s gotta be an easier way than that – I’ve never seen a death certificate, but since that has to be filed anyway, couldn’t a social or driver’s license or both be attached to it, and then a central database be used to purge that person from things like jury summons, voting, etc?
Three Million People Have Gone To a Rangers Game This Season. Last night, the Rangers celebrated topping 3 million in attendance for the season. They did not, however, celebrate a win.
Fall Allergy Season Early This Year. So yeah, between the Death Mosquitoes and allergies, just stay inside, hermetically seal your house, and drink whiskey. The whiskey won’t do anything for your allergies or your West Nile, but it will make you happier, depending on the whiskey. So in conclusion, whiskey and your couch > dying of mosquito and allergies.