Ads, Revenue, Off at Lee Enterprises

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Newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises Inc. said Monday that profits fell 1 percent to $22.5 million, or 49 cents a share in the third quarter, the result of a slow newspaper advertising market.

The results compared with a year ago earnings of $22.7 million, or 50 cents a share a year ago.

The 49 cents a share in the current quarter met the expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Nine-month figures show a 1.9 percent increase in profits to $61 million, or $1.34 per share from $59.9 million, or $1.24 per share the year before.

Chief Executive Mary Junck said the company’s advertising revenue has been significantly stronger than that of peers, but still down modestly compared with a year ago.

“Real estate is in a down cycle, taking retail home improvement and furniture store advertising with it,” she said in a statement. “National advertising is also in a trough. In addition, some of our bigger department store customers are working through competitive and branding issues, and the auto industry is undergoing structural changes.”

A rapid growth in Internet revenue has accelerated to a rate of more than 60 percent in the last quarter and now accounts for almost 8 percent of our advertising revenue, she said.

Lee owns 51 daily newspapers and has a joint interest in five others, an online business and more than 300 weekly newspapers and specialty publications in 23 states.

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