Out of Bankruptcy, ?Florida Times-Union? Parent Reports Q2 Profit

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Reporting on its first full quarter of operations since emerging from bankruptcy in March, Morris Publishing Group LLC recorded a Q2 profit of $2.6 million on revenue that fell 4.9% to $60.4 million.

Advertising revenue slipped 5.4% from the year-ago quarter, Morris said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Florida’s continuing economic weakness was mostly responsible for the ad revenue slippage, Morris said in the SEC filing.

“Our existing Florida newspapers and publications, which account for 32.1% of our total advertising revenues, contributed 52.2% of our entire net decline in advertising revenue,” it said.

“Real estate remained a languishing part of the state of Jacksonville’s economy and double digit unemployment in Jacksonville continued to weigh on consumer spending,” Morris added, referring to its flagship The Times-Union. Advertising revenue from Jacksonville fell 9.2% in the quarter, the company said.

Morris, which publishes 13 dailies, said retail advertising revenue fell 5.7%. Classified revenue was down 3.7%, with help-wanted a drag on the total. National ad revenue was off 12.2% from a year ago.

Online advertising revenue was $6.6 million, up 1.7%, from last year’s quarter.

Circulation revenue was essentially unchanged from the year-ago result.

Unlike many of its peers, Morris reported that its operating expenses were slightly higher in the second quarter than they were a year ago. Where other publishers have been reporting significant drops in newsprint and ink expenses, Morris said those expenses actually increased year-over-year to $6.7 million from $5.3 million.

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