Knight Ridder Earnings Up; Outlook Cautious

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(AP) Knight Ridder, the nation’s second-largest newspaper publisher, reported a 12% rise in earnings for its second quarter Thursday. But the company also issued a cautious outlook and said department store and national advertising were sluggish.

The company, whose properties include The Miami Herald and the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, earned $86.3 million in the three months ending in June, up from $77.2 million in the corresponding period a year ago.

On a per-share basis, earnings rose to $1.08 per share, up from 95 cents a share in the same period a year ago and two cents ahead of the estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Despite the improved bottom-line results, Knight Ridder Chairman and CEO Tony Ridder said in a statement that the operating performance was “not what we had hoped for.” Ridder said that sluggish department store advertising and a decline in national advertising offset continued growth in real estate and help-wanted ads.

Overall advertising revenues rose 2% in the quarter to $760 million.

“Looking ahead, we are cautious,” Ridder said, adding that the company expected advertising revenue to track at the same rate through the rest of the year as it had in the first four months.

For the first six months of the year, Knight Ridder earned $142.2 million, up 11% from $127.9 million in the same period a year earlier. Per-share earnings rose to $1.78 from $1.56, while revenues edged higher to $1.47 billion from $1.44 billion.

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