Lee Enterprises Inc., publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other daily newspapers, on Tuesday reported a 23 percent drop in profit for its fiscal first quarter compared with a year ago, when it posted a large gain after curtailing retiree health benefits.
The company reported net income of $14.6 million, or 32 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 25. That compares with a profit of $18.9 million, or 42 cents per share, for the same period a year ago.
However, earnings rose 18 percent when one-time gains and losses during both quarters were excluded. The company earned $16.9 million, or 38 cents per share, compared with $14.3 million, or 32 cents, a year ago, excluding one-time items.
Revenue was $199.6 million, down 3.9 percent from a year ago. Advertising declined 6.1 percent, while circulation revenue rose 2.7 percent. Digital advertising revenue rose 10 percent to $16.2 million.
"We continue to expect revenue trends to improve slowly in 2012, as we press forward with more digital and print initiatives," said Lee Enterprises chairman and CEO Mary Junck.
Also last quarter, Lee did a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to allow it to complete a restructuring of its debt. A prepackaged filing usually results in a speedy exit from bankruptcy court protection, and Lee said Tuesday that it plans to ask the court to let it exit on Jan. 30.
Shares of the Davenport, Iowa, company rose 1 cent to 75 cents in morning trading.