Does Johnston Press plc’s Latest News Make It A Better Buy Than Vodafone Group plc?

Shares in news and information services company Johnston Press (LSE: JPR) have been given a boost today with the release of an update on its pension deficit. In fact, the findings of a study into the company’s pension scheme are expected to reduce the present value of the scheme’s deficit by around £50m as at 2 January 2016.

Furthermore, following a change to the scheme’s rules, Johnston Press will now be able to participate in any surplus when the scheme closes. Therefore, the application of accounting regulation IFRIC 14 (which resulted in a liability of £3m last year) won’t be required. This means that the pension scheme deficit is reduced by as much as £53m.

Clearly, that’s very good news for Johnston Press and its shares have soared by as much as 15% in response. However, they’re still down by 74% in the last year and investor sentiment remains relatively weak owing to the downbeat financial performance that has been a feature of recent years for the business. In fact, Johnston Press has failed to deliver a black bottom line in recent years and although its outlook is more positive than its past, it may be prudent to watch rather than buy it at the present time.

Long-term appeal

One stock that also operates within the technology, media and telecoms space is Vodafone (LSE: VOD). Its shares appear to be well worth buying due in part to the company’s strategy of recent years.

For example, Vodafone has invested heavily in its network and infrastructure as it attempts to improve its service offering to customers. This should allow it to at least maintain market share across Europe in future years, with a strategy of acquiring discounted assets such as Kabel Deutschland and Spain’s Ono also improving the company’s long-term growth outlook.

In addition, Vodafone is diversifying into new product areas so as to provide a more stable long-term earnings outlook. Its move into quad play is ongoing and could provide significant cross-selling opportunities while also de-risking Vodafone’s telecoms exposure.

As ever, Vodafone remains a highly attractive income stock. It currently yields 5.3% and with the outlook for the wider market being highly uncertain, its shares are likely to become increasingly popular due to their excellent track record of delivering steady rises in shareholder payouts. When combined with increased diversity and an impressive long-term growth outlook, Vodafone appears to have considerable appeal as a long-term buy.

Of course, Vodafone has suffered in recent years from its decision to focus to a greater extent on one geographical region: Europe. With GDP growth being slow, Vodafone has been hurt by the decision to scale back its North American operations, but with quantitative easing likely to boost demand in Europe, Vodafone could be a major beneficiary.

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Peter Stephens owns shares of Vodafone. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.