American Media

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It took three tries, but when American Media bought Weider Publications last November, AM Chairman-CEO David Pecker got the acquisition he wanted to transform the company portfolio of tabloids and sundry odds and ends. He needed the acquisition too: Despite double-digit gains in ad pages at The National Enquirer and Star, and the recognition from others in the media landscape, the tabs still are the kinds of places shunned by basic blue-chip advertisers like automakers. And the tabs were hit by at least mid-single-digit newsstand declines in both halves of `02. Weider, meanwhile, had its ad pages rise 10.9% in 2002, paced by a stronger performance at its crown jewel Shape, which had ad pages climb 15.6% to just under 1,000. (The hardcore muscle books in the Weider portfolio, like Flex, are unaudited, but those who saw Weider's books during the sale process say they boast more impressive profit margins than the other consumer titles.) The combination of tabloids with bodybuilding and fitness titles, and magazines like Country Weekly and Mira! may make American Media an odd duck, but the Weider deal gave it the breadth it badly needed, to say nothing of a platform and blank slate for the aggressive Mr. Pecker to build from.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Best performer:

Star

ad pages

up 27.1% to 825.5

circulation

down 7.7% to

1.4 million

Worst performer:

Country Weekly

ad pages

down 11% to 720.7

circulation

up 0.2% to 402,050

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