Lee Enterprises reports drop in fourth-quarter profits, revenue

Lee Enterprises reports drop in fourth-quarter profits, revenue

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Updated with closing share price.

Lee Enterprises Inc., the parent company of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on Thursday reported fourth quarter net income of $1.3 million, or 1 cent per share, down from $4.4 million, or 7 cents, in the year-earlier period.

Revenue slid 11.5% to $123.7 million in the quarter, which ended Sept. 29.

Total digital revenue in the quarter was $36.2 million, representing 29.3% of total operating revenue. Subscription revenue on a same-property basis fell 4.6%, but digital-only subscribers grew 79.1%, and now total 91,000 company-wide.

Operating expenses for the fourth quarter fell 10.6%. Compensation fell 9.7% as the company continues to contract, and newsprint and ink expenses slid nearly 26% due, in part, to lower prices.

In a statement, Lee President and CEO Kevin Mowbray said the company continued to make “great progress on our digital transformation in 2019.”

For the full year, net income was $14.3 million, or 25 cents, down from $47 million, or 82 cents. Revenue fell 6.3% to $509.8 million, the Davenport, Iowa-based media company said.

The company shaved $41.2 million from its debt in the past year. As of Sept. 29, the principal amount of debt was $443.6 million.

Lee Enterprises operates in 50 communities in 20 states, publishing daily newspapers, weeklies and specialty publications, as well as a range of digital products.

Shares of Lee Enterprises closed Thursday at $1.73, down 16 cents or 8.5 percent.

To read the full earnings report, go to lee.net

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