Earlier today, Lee Enterprises, the parent company of the Pantagraph and Woodford County Journal, reported earnings of $4.8 million for the third fiscal quarter that concluded on June 24. That is roughly eight cents per diluted common share. For the same quarter a year ago, earnings totaled $6.3 million or 11 cents per diluted common share.
The company revenue in the quarter dropped 4.8 percent to $132.62 million.
While overall advertising and marketing revenue fell, the company saw growth in both digital advertising and subscription income.
"Digital advertising revenue increased 4.7 percent and represented 33.7 percent of total advertising revenue for the quarter," said Lee President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kevin Mowbray in a statement. "Subscription revenue increased 1.6 percent in the quarter through our premium content offerings and acquisitions in the prior year.”
Lee, which is headquartered in Davenport, Iowa, reduced its debt by $16.5 million in the June quarter and brought its overall debt to just under $500 million. Aggressive cost-cutting is helping. During the quarter, Lee was able to shave compensation by 8.5 percent on a same property basis, primarily as a result of a reduction in staffing levels. Much of that debt is a legacy of Lee’s acquisition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from Pulitzer Inc. in 2005. That same year, they also purchased the Pantagraph and WCJ.
In all, Lee does business in 49 markets.
Last month, Lee announced it will manage Berkshire Hathaway’s newspaper and digital operations in 30 markets. That arrangement started July 2.