Journal Register Sees Rise in 4Q Profit

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(AP) Newspaper publisher Journal Register Co. reported today that acquisitions helped boost fourth-quarter profits by 55 percent, and that advertising revenues rose modestly among publications it owned for a year or more.

The Trenton-based publisher of The Trentonian, the New Haven (Conn.) Register, and 25 other daily newspapers said net income for the three months ending Dec. 26 was $25.4 million, or 60 cents per share, up from $16.4 million, or 39 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding special items, such as a $10.3 million reversal of tax accruals in the fourth quarter, earnings per share were 36 cents a share, compared to 35 cents a year earlier.

That met the diminished expectations of analysts polled by Thomson First Call. The company advised Wall Street in December that fourth-quarter results would be 34 cents to 36 cents a share. At the time, analysts were expecting 35 cents to 37 cents.

Journal Register chairman, president, and CEO Robert M. Jelenic said, “We are very pleased with our 2004 results, which reflect record revenues and earnings driven by solid execution in virtually all aspects of our business.”

Fourth-quarter revenues rose 39.7 percent to $145.9 million from $104.4 million a year ago. Among properties operated for at least a year, quarterly revenues rose 2 percent.

Advertising revenue grew 45.8 percent in the fourth quarter, to $113.7 million. For properties operated by Journal Register for at least a year, advertising revenues rose 2.9 percent.

On that basis, retail advertising rose 0.4 percent and classified advertising increased 3.9 percent, from the fourth quarter a year ago.

The company said it continues to integrate the acquisition of a Michigan newspaper chain, 21st Century Newspapers, which includes four daily papers. That acquisition was completed in August for $415 million.

For 2004, Journal Register reported profits of $116.5 million, or $2.74 a share, up from $72 million, or $1.72 a share, for 2003.

Revenues for 2004 were a record $475.7 million, up from $406 million a year ago. Among properties operated for at least a year, revenues rose 2.2 percent.

Advertising revenues for 2004 were $361.6 million, up 20.9 percent from 2003. On a same-store basis, advertising revenues rose 3.7 percent for the year.

In addition to 27 dailies, Journal Register operates 337 non-daily newspapers. Its properties are clustered in greater Philadelphia, Michigan, Connecticut, greater Cleveland, central New England, and the Capital-Saratoga and Mid-Hudson regions of New York.

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