Robert Decherd, looking happy -- seriously

Belo Stock on the Rise. Why? Y-A-H-O-O?

Yesterday, we posted the nutty -- by which we mean, totally credible and completely reasonable -- press release from Dallas-based Life Media Network International, in wihch it said it's planning by year's end "to acquire major media assets and companies," among them XM Satellite Radio, Clear Channel Communications and Belo Corporation. That prompted a comment from the mysterious "Bill M.," who suggested we take a peek at the Belo stock. "Acquisition may already be under way," writes Bill M. And, yeah, we know Bill M.'s kidding and all, but, hey, wouldya look at that.

Before the market opened this morning, Belo stock was up to $19.42 a share -- or one thin dime off its 52-week high of $19.52, at which the stock was trading way back on April 21, 2006. More significantly, the stock's worth a buck more today than it was a mere week ago, with most of those gains coming since last Wednesday, when it was still below the $19 mark. And on Wednesday and Friday especially, it was a big player, with nearly a million shares trading hands on those two days.

Surely, Belo ain't about to get bought by some Christian broadcasters, though perhaps that does explain the death-penalty switcheroo over the weekend -- that, or The Dallas Morning News was looking to enter the mid- to late 20th century, in which case, welcome. So what accounts for the steep climb in Belo's stock price?

Maybe it was yesterday's announcement of a "definitive agreement" between Yahoo! Inc. and 12 newspaper companies, among then Belo Corp. Though the thing's been in the works since November, on Monday it was announced the number of paper belonging to this consortium, of which Belo was a founding member, it up to 264 in 44 states. Said Belo Corp. chairman and CEO Robert Decherd, "This ground-breaking partnership creates the newspaper industry's first full-fledged integrated online advertising network and significantly expands consortium members' Internet presence. The consortium continues to gain momentum and will play a central role in the emerging media landscape." And maybe people believe him.

There's a chance you can find out for yourself just what accounts for the stock-price gain this afternoon: At 3:10 today, Belo bigwigs will speak to investors at the A.G. Edwards 11th Annual Media and Entertainment Conference, which it taking place in Las Vegas, because that's where all the best work gets done. The presentation will be Webcast on Belo's Web site. Start planning your day accordingly. --Robert Wilonsky

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