Pulitzer Revenues Up 5.5%

By: E&P Staff

Led by strong classified gains at its St. Louis Post-Dispatch flagship and Pulitzer Newspaper Inc. (PNI) properties, Pulitzer Inc. reported second-quarter operating revenue increased 5.5% over last year.

Operating revenue increased to $113.1 million from $107.1 million in the second quarter of 2003, while operating income in the period decreased 2.7% to $22.9 million. Net income was $11.8 million, or $0.54 per diluted shared, compared with $11.4 million, or $0.53 per diluted share in the year-ago period.

“This was a great quarter for Pulitzer,” Pulitzer President and CEO Robert C. Woodworth said in a conference call to media analysts Tuesday morning.

The Post-Dispatch “had a challenging start” but finished the quarter strong, he said. Help-wanted classified was up 10.9% against last year, while the 6.9% gain was the second consecutive quarterly increase in real estate classified revenue.

Pulitzer has long followed a strategy of gaining market share in the St. Louis market, and executives said the quarter’s results showed the gambit paying off. Ad revenue was up strongly at the Suburban Journals, with recruitment pacing ahead of its big-city sibling. The Local Values direct market product launched last March is contributing revenue, executives said. While he declined to quantify the product’s contribution, Post-Dispatch President and Publisher Terrance C.Z. Egger said it was on track to turn a profit in 2005.

PNI had its “best second quarter ever, which comes on top of its best first quarter ever,” Woodworth said. The 12 dailies and 65-plus weeklies, shoppers and niche publications had a combined increase of 38.8% in help-wanted, with real estate revenues up 17.9%.

Woodworth said the Tucson Newspaper Agency, in which Pulitzer’s Arizona Daily Star shares business operations with Gannett Co.’s Tucson Citizen, was “heading in the right direction.” Advertising revenue was up 7.3% for the quarter, with help-wanted shooting up 44.7% in the quarter. The agency’s operating revenue increased 5.2% in the quarter.

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