By: Linda A. Johnson, AP Business Writer
(AP) Journal Register Co.’s fourth-quarter net profits plunged 75% from a year ago, when a one-time gain from the sale of some newspapers lifted results. The weak economy also depressed advertising revenues.
The Trenton-based company, which publishes 23 daily newspapers and 204 other publications, earned $9.5 million in the fourth quarter, or 23 cents per share, matching the forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.
A year earlier, the company earned $38.6 million, or 85 cents per share, including a gain of $39.6 million from the sale of some newspapers. Excluding that gain and a change in tax expenses, net income for 2000’s fourth-quarter would have been $12.8 million, or 28 cents per share.
“We are pleased with our 2001 financial results given the difficulty economy,” Robert M.
Jelenic, president and chief executive, said in a prepared statement.
During the year, the company completed five acquisitions and, in December, opened a new Philadelphia-area production facility slated to print five daily newspapers and nearly three dozen non-daily newspapers, he said.
Jelenic said he expected advertising revenue to pick up in the second half of this year, and that lower ad revenues in the meantime would be partly offset by company cost controls, reduced newsprint prices and lower interest rates.
Last quarter, the slumping economy cut total revenues by 9% from 2000’s fourth quarter, to $103 million from $114 million, with advertising, classified and retail revenues all down significantly.
For all of 2001, Journal Register posted net income of $78.1 million, or $1.83 per share. That was down 54% from $169.4 million, or $3.72 per share, in 2000.
Excluding revenue from newspaper sales in both years, net income would have been $32.3 million, or 80 cents per share, for 2001, down from $44.8 million, or 99 cents per share, for 2000.
Annual revenues totaled $394.4 million in 2001, down 15% from $464 million in 2000.
Journal Register shares fell 14 cents to close at $20.03 in trading Tuesday on the New York
Journal Register’s publications are clustered in the Philadelphia and Cleveland regions,
Connecticut, central New England and the Saratoga and mid-Hudson regions of New York.