Lee Enterprises: Profit Off 18%

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Newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises Inc. said Monday its second-quarter profit fell 18 percent as a surge in online ad sales failed to offset softness in print advertising.

The owner of the Wisconsin State Journal and Quad-City Times, among other publications, said net income dropped to $11.9 million, or 26 cents per share, from $14.4 million, or 32 cents per share, in the prior year.

Excluding items, adjusted income from continuing operations totaled $8.9 million, or 19 cents per share, down from $14.1 million, or 31 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were looking for profit of 25 cents per share.

“Online advertising revenue climbed 54 percent in the quarter, and that rapid growth continues to offset softness in print advertising, particularly classified employment, automotive and real estate,” Chairman and Chief Executive Mary Junck said in a statement.

Revenue for the quarter slipped 2 percent to $261.7 million from $266.2 million in the previous year. Revenue on a same-property basis, which excludes the impact of acquisitions and divestitures made in the current or prior year, declined 1.9 percent.

Consensus estimates expected higher sales of $266.6 million, according to Thomson Financial.

Total advertising revenue dipped 2.2 percent, with online advertising gaining 53.9 percent, and national dropping 8.3 percent. The latest quarter included one less Sunday and one additional Saturday, which affected year-over-year comparisons, as Sundays normally generate more print advertising revenue than any other day of the week, the company said.

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