McClatchy’s 4Q Profits Down 22%

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(AP) Newspaper publisher McClatchy Co.’s profits dropped 22% to $20.9 million in the fourth quarter as advertising revenues continued a yearlong decline.

The Sacramento-based company also reported Wednesday that its full-year profits were $58 million, or $1.27 per share, a decline of 35% from 2000’s record earnings of $88.9 million, or $1.97 a share.

Net income for the fourth quarter was 46 cents per share, down from last year’s fourth quarter earnings of $26.7 million or 59 cents per share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had predicted 46 cents per share in the fourth quarter for McClatchy, whose flagship newspaper is The Sacramento Bee.

Fourth-quarter revenue dropped 10.7% to $276.7 million from $310 million in 2000. For the year, McClatchy reported $1.08 billion in revenue, down 5.3% from $1.14 billion in 2000.

Advertising revenues were down 6% in 2001. Still, CEO and Chairman Gary Pruitt said the newspapers’ performance was among the best in the industry. “Not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but we have developed strategies to get smaller advertisers in the paper that don’t normally advertise,” Pruitt said.

McClatchy estimated in October that it lost $2 million in revenue in the week following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Internet revenues grew 18.3% to $19.9 million, and all McClatchy’s newspapers posted circulation gains.

The company expects “no improvement to recent revenue trends” in the first quarter of 2002, Pruitt said. However, he said, costs should decrease in that period because of declining newsprint prices and consumption and due to cost savings from lower interest rates and debt reduction.

McClatchy expects first quarter earnings to be between 36 cents and 39 cents per share. Analysts expected 42 cents.

The company’s shares were up 49 cents at $50 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

McClatchy is headquartered in Sacramento and publishes 11 daily and 13 non-daily newspapers in California, Minnesota, the Carolinas, and the Pacific Northwest. It also owns and operates Nando Media, an Internet publishing unit, and The Newspaper Network, an advertising insert distributor.

Its newspapers include the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, The Fresno Bee, The Modesto Bee, The News & Observer, in Raleigh, N.C., The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., and the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska.

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