Rupert Murdoch gave the thumbs up in an annual meeting with News Corp. shareholders today, according to several news reports.
The media mogul “told investors that News Corp has a strong balance sheet and a good array of businesses to help it in the event of a prolonged economic downturn,” the Washington Post reported.
According to News Corp’s 2008 annual balance sheet, filed with the SEC on June 13th, the company held $4.6 billion in cash, $11.4 billion in retained earnings and $28.6 billion in shareholders’ equity – a healthy offset to its $9.2 billion in current liabilities at the time of the filing.
However, since then the company’s stock has dropped 50% to $9 a share from $18 a share, and a total of 60% over the past 12 months.
During today’s meeting, Murdoch told his investors it was tempting to boast about past gains, but instead held back “in the midst of the unprecedented credit crisis and the global downturn it was exacerbating,” the Daily Telegraph reported.
In addition to nearly $5 billion in cash in hand, News Corp has extended its average debt maturity to more than 22 years, the CEO told his investors.
In other news: Murdoch ranked last in Portfolio magazine’s list of the 50 most generous U.S. billionaires, according to a Bloomberg report today.
Considering Murdoch’s own stake in his company, that might help explain News Corp.’s healthy balance sheet when other media companies are faring much worse.