Sector Snap: Stocks of Most Major Newspaper Publishers Down

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Shares of most newspaper publishers declined in Thursday trading after four companies posted flat or weaker-than expected second quarter results.

The decline was led by a wide revenue miss from Media General Inc., which publishes papers across the Southern states. Media General said Thursday it pulled in $230.1 million during the quarter, while analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected it to generate $245.8 million.

The Richmond, Va., company earned about 85 cents per share, compared with $1.61 per share earned in the year-ago period. Analysts expected the Richmond-based company to earn 82 cents per share.

Shares plunged $2.30, or 5.5 percent, to $39.80 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $35.74 to $69.28 and is down 17 percent since the beginning of the year.

Sacramento, Calif.-based McClatchy Co. reported flat profit earlier Thursday but beat analyst expectations. The company said it earned 94 cents per share in the second quarter while Wall Street forecast 88 cents per share. The results didn’t include the effect of its recently closed acquisition of Knight Ridder Inc., which will begin to be reflected in results in the third quarter.

Shares of McClatchy rose 83 cents, or 2 percent, to $41.39 on the NYSE, after earlier changing hands as high as $42.48. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $38.80 to $68.40.

Journal Register Co., parent of the New Haven Register and other newspapers, said Thursday its profit fell 36 percent, weighed down by weak advertising sales and a one-time charge. The Trenton, N.J., company earned 25 cents per share while analysts expected it to earn 30 cents per share.

Shares fell 15 cents, to $8.63 on the Big Board. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $8.48 to $19.45.

Tribune Co. said Thursday that its profit declined on lower newspaper circulation and the sale of some of its television stations. The Chicago company said it earned 53 cents per share, including charges that reduced profit by 2 cents per share, from continuing operations. Wall Street expected Tribune to earn 55 cents per share.

Shares of Tribune shed 84 cents or 2.6 percent on the NYSE. Shares have traded in a 52-week range of $27.09 to $39.56.

Gannett Co., the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, said Wednesday that its profit declined 8.3 percent to $1.31 per share, in line with analyst forecasts. The company, which publishes 90 papers including USA Today, said stock compensation expenses, softness in its British papers and higher costs hurt profit.

Shares dropped 51 cents to $55.11 on the NYSE.

The weak results for the industry pulled down several companies that have yet to report. Shares of the New York Times Co. fell 23 cents to $24.02, Dow Jones & Co. declined 52 cents to $33.76, and News Corp. shed 24 cents to $20.22. All trade on the NYSE.

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