Journal Communications to Close Plant Damaged by Katrina

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(AP) Journal Communications Inc., owner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other media outlets, said Friday it will permanently close its hurricane-damaged New Orleans printing plant and take a related charge of as much as $3.4 million.

The company said it also expects to incur a loss of about $1.6 million in the third quarter for damages and business interruption because of the storm.

The company’s community publishing group prints five niche publications and provides commercial printing services from leased plants in New Orleans, Kenner and Baton Rouge, La. The company will move equipment from the New Orleans plant to other locations.

The company said Hurricane Katrina widely dispersed customers.

“It is always difficult to close a facility, but long-standing weakness in that business and uncertainty about current and future prospects due to the impact of the hurricane drove our decision,” Steven J. Smith, Journal Communications chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Most of the community publishing group’s 100 Louisiana employees worked in New Orleans.

Journal Communications also said it expects continued weakness in advertising at its publishing and broadcast operations to result in revenue falling below previously announced expectations of $186 million to $191 million for the third quarter.

The company said net income will likely fall at the low end of its previous estimate of $14 million to $16 million.

Shares of Journal Communications fell 8 cents to $14.92 on the New York Stock Exchange. Milwaukee-based Journal Communications also owns more than 90 community newspapers and shoppers, 38 radio stations and seven television stations.

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