We Belo-ng Together

The Gannett Company announced Thursday that it plans to buy Dallas-based Belo Corporation for $1.5 billion in the largest local television acquisition in more than a decade. News of the deal sent Gannett’s stock value soaring by 34 percent over its price at Wednesday’s closing bell, the New York Times reports. 

Gannett, which owns USA Today and several other newspapers, will operate 43 local TV stations—21 of them in top-25 markets—once the deal closes later this year, according to the Times. The company would also rank third on the list of top local station owners in the U.S. by revenue, behind News Corp. and CBS. 

The Bottom Line: The Belo acquisition is part of a “yearlong strategy by Gannett to diversify its media operations amid continued struggles in the print industry,” the Times reports. The deal should also give Gannett an opportunity to improve its position in rate negotiations with networks, advertisers, and cable and satellite providers.  

Saturday Knight Special

Irving-based Medieval Times is considering an expansion into several new U.S. markets, with Houston and Phoenix at the top of the list, the Dallas Business Journal reports. The thirty-year-old “dinner attraction” chain currently hosts jousting and sword-fighting performances at nine castle-themed restaurants in North America. 

The Medieval Times castle near downtown Dallas is one of the chain’s most popular, packing in about 3,000 customers every Saturday—and its managers say about 5 million guests have stormed the gates since the location opened in 1992. Not bad, especially considering the $60 adult ticket price.

The Bottom Line: Medieval Times moved its headquarters to Irving from California in the early nineties, drawn in by the low cost of ranch land, according to the DBJ. The company operates its flagship horse-training program at a 241-acre farm in Denton County.

Box Stocks on the Block

After unpacking a solid revenue gain in 2012, the Container Store appears to be moving toward a public offering, the Wall Street Journal reports. Unnamed sources told the paper that the Coppell-based houseware and storage product retailer “is working with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and other banks” to explore the possibility of filing for an IPO, but the “timing and valuation of an offering were not yet decided.”

Based on the Container Store’s sales relative to those of similar publicly traded companies, analysts estimate its value at about $1 billion. The company is also expected to grow its revenue by another ten percent this year, according to Businessweek.

The Bottom Line: The Journal suggests the newfound momentum in the home products sector could be tied to the bounce-back of the housing market: Investors are optimistic that rising home sales will mean stronger sales of items designed to help new homeowners get organized. 

Winner of the Week: Carnival Cruise Lines

The Carnival Triumph set sail this week from the Port of Galveston, embarking on its first voyage since an engine fire stranded the ship in the Gulf of Mexico for eight days in February, CNN reports. Carnival Cruise Lines endured weeks of negative publicity in response to the incident, which left more than 4,000 passengers and crew members without power or working toilets for more than a week.

To avoid a repeat of the PR disaster, the company spent about $115 million on repairs to the ship, including new fire safety technologies and an additional backup generator, according to NBC. It appears that Carnival’s hope for a fresh start is panning out: It managed to sell out both of Triumph’s first two cruises, thanks in part to fare discounts.

Loser of the Week: Andrew Cuomo

Governor Rick Perry is heading to New York and Connecticut this weekend in the next phase of his coast-to-coast business recruiting blitz. In addition to meeting with leaders from the pharmaceutical, financial, and firearms industries, Perry has also launched a $1 million advertising campaign to persuade companies to relocate to Texas, Businessweek reports.

Perry says he’s “suspecting there’s probably going to be a little push-back” from public officials in the two states, as was the case in his other recent recruiting trips to California and Illinois. Sure enough, a spokesman for Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has dismissed Perry’s tactics as “lame publicity stunts.” And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo took aim at the Lone Star State itself: “You can come to Texas and pay no income tax. Our program does one better—you can stay in New York, pay no income tax, and you don’t have to move Texas.”