Ariel Investments Cuts Stake in Lee Enterprises

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Chicago-based Ariel Investments, which has been a long-term and patient investor in newspaper stocks, disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday that it has substantially reduced its holdings of Lee Enterprises.

Ariel said in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) it now owns 3,537,955 shares of Lee, or 9.1% of shares outstanding. In a previous SEC filing, Ariel said as of Dec. 31, 2008 it owned 5,509,172 shares, or a 14.12% stake.

Last week saw furious trading in Lee, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol LEE. Trading volumes were four and five times the average, and the stock has risen significantly to well above $1 a share after languishing at about 30 cents to 40 cents a share through March and April.

Ariel’s filing would appear to show who is among those selling shares of Lee. There has been no similar SEC filing to reveal who is buying.

In mid-morning trading Monday, Lee shares were $1.57, down 7 cents, or 4.2%, from the opening. Lee has traded in a 52-week range of 24 cents to $7.94.

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