Pulitzer Chain Cautions on Earnings

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(AP) Pulitzer Inc. said Monday that first-quarter earnings will be at the low end of, or even slightly below, analyst estimates because of the toll the war in Iraq is taking on advertising.

Analysts had predicted that earnings, due out April 22, would range from 35 cents to 42 cents per diluted share.

“Pulitzer is seeing the same war-related caution being expressed by its advertisers that other media companies have commented on,” Pulitzer President and CEO Robert Woodworth said. “Advertiser caution and weak economy are putting pressure on advertising growth, particularly in the areas of major retail, automotive, and employment.”

As a result, Woodworth said, the company has increased its focus on cost control.

“Accordingly, we believe we can meet our earlier guidance for full-year 2003 earnings per share from continuing operations of at least $1.95,” he said. “However, we face a great deal of uncertainty, and our results would be adversely affected should there be a protracted war in Iraq.”

In morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, shares of Pulitzer rose 83 cents to $46.45.

The St. Louis-based Pulitzer is not the first media company to say that the war is hurting business. Gannett Co. Inc. and Belo also have reduced their earnings outlooks, citing an advertising slowdown.

Pulitzer operates two major metropolitan dailies, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson; 12 other dailies; and new-media businesses connected to the newspapers. It also owns the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis, a group of 37 weekly papers and niche publications.

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