Lee Enterprises posts $1.76M profit for 4Q

AP News
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Posted: Nov 12, 2009 10:45 AM

Lee Enterprises Inc., publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and dozens of other newspapers, Thursday said it earned a small profit in the latest quarter, helped by cost cuts and lower prices for paper.

The company based in Davenport, Iowa, earned $1.76 million, or 4 cents per share in the fourth fiscal quarter, which ended Sept. 27. In the same quarter a year ago, it took heavy goodwill impairments, resulting in a loss of $192.24 million, or $4.34 cents per share.

Revenue dropped 20 percent to $195.8 million from $244.9 million a year ago as advertising continued to fall. However, the company said the decline in advertising appears to be slowing down.

Lee shares rose 24 cents, or 6.8 percent, to $3.77 in morning trading.

Paid circulation for Lee's papers declined 6.4 percent on weekdays and 5.8 percent on Sunday in the six-month period ended Sept. 30, as tallied by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, but Lee said most of the reduction was due to planned reductions like reduced distribution in fringe areas.

The company said it is reducing its debt and expects to continue doing so.

For the full fiscal year, Lee lost $123 million, or $2.77 per share, versus a loss of $880.3 million, or $19.65 a share, a year earlier. Annual revenue fell 18.2 percent to $842 million from $1.03 billion a year ago.

(This version CORRECTS that quarter was fiscal fourth sted third for Lee)