Lee, Dow Jones Report 2Q Gains

By: E&P Staff

Lee Enterprises Inc. reported Thursday that diluted earnings per share (EPS) for its fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2006, were $.50, compared with the year-ago quarter of $.41.

Meanwhile, Dow Jones & Co. Inc. said its second-quarter profit rose, helped by increased advertising revenue at the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Online properties.

Excluding special items, second-quarter earnings rose to 39 cents per share from comparable 34 cents per share a year ago. Revenue rose 5.9 percent to $481.2 million.

Lee said unusual costs related to its June 2005 acquisition of Pulitzer Inc. reduced EPS in both years.

“Transition costs and a re-evaluation of intangible assets related to the acquisition of Pulitzer reduced diluted earnings per common share from continuing operations by 11 cents in the current year quarter,” Lee said. “In 2005, transition costs and loss on early extinguishment of debt reduced earnings by 17 cents.”

On a same-property basis, total advertising revenue for the quarter increased 1.8%, Lee said. Retail advertising was up 0.9%, but classified was down 0.4%, and national decreased 8.0%. Same-property online ad revenue was up 44.3%. Circulation revenue increased 0.4%.

Total same-property operating revenue increased 1.3%.

Including the Pulitzer properties for the full quarter of 2006 and one month of the 2005 reporting quarter, advertising revenue for the 2006 quarter increased 40.6% from a year ago to $234.4 million, Lee said.

Retail was up 35.9%; classified increased 36.6%; and national was up 86.7%. Online ad revenue increased 105.5%, while niche advertising increased 38.9%

Circulation revenue including the Pulitzer properties increased 36.3 percent. Total operating revenue increased 38.2 percent to $301.1 million.

“Exceptionally strong online advertising, niche product growth and an improved showing in retail allowed us to deliver another good quarter and meet earnings expectations, adjusted for some unusual events,” Chairman and CEO Mary Junck said in a statement. “Revenue growth continues to vary widely region by region in a still-uneven economic climate, but our audience growth advances across the board.”

Junck said 36 Lee newspapers reported circulation gains in the quarter. Lee owns 52 dailies and interests in six other papers.

A year after the Pulitzer acquisition, “we remain on course with Pulitzer and believe we’ve set the stage for future growth,” Lee said.

Operating expenses, including Pulitzer, increased 39.2% to $218.5 million for the quarter, also reflecting acquisition costs, Lee said.

On a same-property basis, operating expenses increased 3.2%, with newsprint and ink up 9.1%, compensation up 1.8%, and other operating expenses up 2.9%.

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