Bonuses Fall For Lee Enterprises CEO Junck, Other Execs

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Year-end bonuses of seven figures or more may have been the talk of Wall Street traders, but a half a country away in Davenport, Iowa, executives at Lee Enterprises took big hits in their cash bonuses, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.

In its proxy statement for its annual meeting next month, Lee said it paid CEO Mary E. Junck a salary in 2006 of $800,000 — a raise of $25,000 from 2005 — plus a cash bonus of $300,000 — well below the $1,100,000 bonus she earned in 2005 or the $1,080,000 bonus in 2004.

The value of restrict stock awarded in 2006 also fell to $1,795,000 from $3,136,900 the year before. Other stock and cash compensation earned in 2006 were roughly the same as previous years, according to the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Under Lee’s Incentive Compensation Program, which was adopted at its 2006 annual meeting, Junck is eligible for an annual cash bonus ranging from 0% to 200% of eligible salary with a target of 100%, the SEC filing said. “”Based upon the company’s performance in fiscal 2006, Ms. Junck did not qualify for an incentive bonus under the performance goals established by the ECC (Board of Director’s Executive Compensation Committee) for 2006,”” the filing said. “”The ECC awarded a discretionary bonus to Ms. Junck of $300,000 in recognition of her leadership in the Company’s successful integration of Pulitzer, circulation growth, strong cash flow performance and significant debt reduction in fiscal 2006.””

Lee said Junck did achieve 99% of the goal tied to award of stock options, and that she was awarded 49,500 shares of a possible 50,000 shares.

The cash bonuses of other top Lee executives also fell, reflecting the falling fortunes of its stock.

CFO Carl G. Schmidt’s bonus fell to $70,500 from $317,600 in 2005, and Greg R. Veon, one of two Lee vice presidents of publishing, had his bonus cut to $50,900 from $118,300 the year before.

In the last year, Lee stock has lagged the S&P 500 index and an index of comparable newspaper companies, the filing said. A $100 investment in Lee beginning in 2001 would have been worth $154.42 in 2004, while the same invest in the S&P index would have been $112.63 and the peer group $137.03. In 2006, the Lee investment would have been worth $87.50, the peer group $106.63, and the S&P investment $140.08.

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