‘Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’ Parent Reports Bigger Q1 Profit Despite Continuing Newspaper-Revenue Slump

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Advertising revenue at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its community newspapers and shoppers continued its slump in the first quarter of the year, Journal Communications reported Tuesday.

Journal Sentinel revenue fell 5.3% from the year-ago quarter to $37.5 million on continuing weak advertising results.

Classified advertising revenue dropped 13.7% on decreasing results in all major categories. Retail ad revenue was off 9.0%.

Interactive revenue was a bright spot at the Journal Sentinel, increasing 20.1% to $2.3 million, primarily due to an increase in retail sponsorships, Journal Communications said.

Operating earnings at the daily swelled to $3.5 million compared to an operating loss of $0.1 million in the first quarter of 2009.

Operating expenses for the quarter were down 14.4% from a year ago, mostly on reductions in the workforce and lowered newsprint expense.

The ad slump also continued at Journal Communications community newspapers and shoppers, with revenue down 17.3% to $7.0 million. Again the problem was declines in real estate and automotive retail and classified advertising revenue.

Journal Communications’ community newspapers and shoppers reported an operating loss of $100,000, compared to a year-ago loss of $500,000. Operating expenses dropped 20.7% on workforce reductions, some production efficiency initiatives and a decrease in newsprint.

Overall publishing revenue dropped 7.4% to $44.6 million with an increase in commercial print revenue unable to overcome the advertising drop.

Revenue for all of Journal Communications decreased 3% to $101.5 million, with net earnings from continuing operations swelling to $5.3 million compared to $100,000 a year ago.

Basic and diluted earnings per share of class A and B common stock from continuing operations were 10 cents for both, compared to basic and diluted loss per share of one cent in 2009.

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