Lee Enterprises Joins Wide Meltdown After Downgrade

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Lee Enterprises Inc. stock sank by more than 12% Tuesday in a trading session in which innvestors greeted the launch of E.W. Scripps Co. as newspaper pureplay by selling off the stock on huge volume.

Lee (NYSE: LEE) closed at $3.51, down 48 cents, or 12.03%, establishing a new 52-week low for the second consecutive session. Lee had traded in a range of $3.81 to $21.48 in the past year. The Associated Press reported the stock touched a 27-year low Tuesday.

Lee?s stock swoon followed a note by Deutsche Bank analyst David Clark cutting Lee’s target price to $6 per share from $14, and saying he sees nothing that will insulate the Davenport, Iowa-based publisher from the advertising losses other newspaper companies are suffering.

Scripps (NYSE: SSP) ended the day down 18 cents, or 5.64%, from its open at $3.01 on big volume as investors apparently rushed to rid themselves of shares they received as part of Scripps spinning off its cable and online businesses into a new company called Scripps Networks Interactive.

In its first day of trading, more than 13.9 million shares of Scripps changed hands — a volume far above the monthly average of about 1 million shares.

Another recently created newspaper pure-play, A.H. Belo Co. (NYSE: AHC), ended the session at a new all-time low of $5.32, down 38 cents, or 6.67%. A.H. Belo launched on Feb. 1 at a stock price of about $16 a share.

The McClatchy Co. also suffered a DB downgrade Tuesday. For the second consecutive day, McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) hit a new 52-week low, closing at $6.30, off 48 cents or 7.08%.

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