Sinking Lee Stock Raises Spectre Of Big Board Sanctions

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Shares of Lee Enterprises Inc. — which have sunk some 88% in price in the past year — have been hammered down repeated in recent days, and on Monday hit a new all-time low that raises concern the stock may face the listing sanctions that have already kicked three newspaper companies off the Big Board.

Lee (NYSE: LEE) closed trading Monday off 29 cents, or 15.51%, at $1.58.

The New York Stock Exchange requires stocks traded on the floor to maintain a price above $1.05. Companies that fail to maintain that average closing price over a 30-day period can be barred from floor trading, and even, if they cannot come up with an acceptable plan to increase the stock price, be delisted altogether.

So far this year, three newspaper companies — Sun-Times Media Group, Journal Register Co., and GateHouse Media Inc. — were first barred from floor trading, then eventually delisted from the NYSE. American Community Newspapers was delisted from the American Stock Exchange this year.

All continue to trade publicly on various Over The Counter (OTC) markets.

In addition to its lowering stock price, Lee is coming close to falling below another minimum requirement for NYSE listing. Lee’s market capitalization as of the end of trading Monday was $71.2 million, just above the Big Board’s minimum of $70 million.

There was no news to explain Monday’s drop in the stock of Davenport, Iowa-based Lee, which reports its fiscal year fourth-quarter results after markets close Thursday.

For a complete wrapup of Monday’s trading in the newspaper sector, check out Fitz & Jen blog.

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