Time Warner CEO Bewkes: News Corp.-MySpace Looked Dubious At First, Too


Looks like Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) CEO Jeff Bewkes might be answering questions about the Bebo deal for awhile. He’s already admitted that the company might have overpaid for the social networking site, and at today’s Deutsche Bank Media & Telecom conference, he admitted: “We did make a bit of a stretch.” He also made similar comments at D6, so he’s been on a real Bebo justification tour lately. A shareholder asked how he could explain the deal, when earlier Bewkes had said that disciplined capital allocation was a key priority. His main response was that this was not representative. Still he’s not calling it a mistake (way too early for that) and he pointed out that it was the “same thing when News Corp (NYSE: NWS). bought MySpace,” as the returns were hard to see at first. The monetization has still been shaky, but News Corp. made investors happy when it inked a $900 million ad deal with Google (NSDQ: GOOG). He also promised that Time Warner has wargamed certain (very optimistic) earnings scenarios that put Bebo’s value at over $1 billion. More on AOL and Time after the jump

AOL: It’s still a pretty mixed picture on the AOL front. Third-party display is growing strong, while the owned & operated sites have suffered from advertisers shifting towards performance-based marketing. Search has been disappointing (“everybody’s losing a little bit of share to Google”) as well. He still expects AOL ad revenue to be positive for the year, and there’s always possibility of a deal: “The interest in AOL by all the usual suspects has been pretty strong, during the last four months, six months.” A number of scenarios remain that could involve AOL.

Time Inc.: Mag titles are not getting destroyed the way newspapers are. There’s no classifieds business getting wrecked by Craigslist. While the news and financial magazines are getting hurt (see: today’s US News & World Report news), lifestyle titles continue to hold up, some of which are still growing the bottom line in the double digits.

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