More strong postings pg. 16

By: Editorial Staff Lower newsprint, higher ad revenue for news cos.
Publicly-held newspaper companies continue to post higher revenues in the first quarter of 1999, reflecting lower newsprint prices and higher advertising revenues. Editor & Publisher will update the Earnings Scorecard as results become available, both in the magazine and at its Web site,

Lee Enterprises
Net income slipped 5.1% to $12 million in the three months ended March 31, the second quarter in Lee's fiscal year, due to tough comparisons with the same period last year. Revenues rose 1.9% to $123.6 million in the same period.
Net income fell, despite improved publishing results, due to the absence of Olympics and Super Bowl advertising on Lee's television network affiliates while broadcasting costs remained about level with last year, says Chris Wahlig, vice president of finance. Corporate costs also were higher this period.
For the six months ended March 31, net income increased 8.3% to $31.6 million, and revenues rose 5.2% to $265.7 million compared with the same period last year, powered by political advertising in fall 1998.
In publishing, revenue climbed 6.8% to $96.5 million for the quarter, or 4.4% not including some small acquisitions. Growth was led by a 6% increase in newspaper ad revenue. Newsprint costs fell 6.4% and circulation revenue was flat.
Davenport, Iowa-based Lee owns 21 daily newspapers, including Davenport's Quad-City Times, daily circulation about 50,000, and more than 75 weeklies.

Journal Register Co.
Net income slipped 7.3% to $7.9 million for the first quarter of 1999, reflecting increased amortization expenses related to the purchase of Goodson Newspapers in 1998. The results beat the consensus estimate from Wall Street analysts polled by First Call.
First-quarter revenues were $109.9 million, a 22.6% increase over the year-ago period. Advertising revenues increased 24.4%, including results of Goodson Newspapers and The Saratogian in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., which were not owned in the year-ago period. On a comparable basis, advertising revenues increased 3.4%. Top performers included The (N.J.) Trentonian, up 7.9%; the Lorain, Ohio, Morning Journal, up 5.9%; and the flagship New Haven (Conn.) Register, up 4.9%.
The Trenton, N.J.-based company realized a 5% drop in newsprint costs associated with the fall in newsprint price and web width reduction at the New Haven Register.

Knight Ridder
Net income at the second-largest U.S. newspaper company in terms of circulation dropped 38% in first-quarter 1999 from the year-ago period to $62.8 million in the first quarter of 1999, reflecting one-time gains in 1998. Not counting gains from the sale of cable systems and the Gary, Ind., Post Tribune, net income from continuing operations rose 11.3% for the quarter. The results beat estimates of analysts surveyed by First Call.
Chairman and CEO Tony Ridder attributed the results to his focus on cost control. First-quarter revenues grew 3.6% to $770.8 million, with ad revenues gaining 3.6%. Strong performers were the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, up 11.5%; The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, up 10.4%; and The Detroit Free Press, up 7.4%.
Overall, general advertising increased 17.5% for the quarter, due to strong advertising in auto, financial, and other sectors. Retail advertising grew 3.3%; classified gained only 0.4%, due to softness in many markets.

The Washington Post Co.
Excluding the effects of a one-time gain, net income for the first quarter of 1999 was essentially unchanged at $45.2 million, compared with the same year-ago period. First-quarter revenues were $520.4 million, up 8% from the same period one year ago.
The company reported a one-time net income gain of $162.8 million in the first quarter of 1998 from the sale of its 28% interest in Cowles Media Co.
The company attributed the flat overall earnings to increased expenses related to acquisitions, new business initiatives, and the recently completed expansion of The Washington Post's printing facilities.
Newspaper publishing revenues rose 2% in the first quarter of 1999 from the year-ago period, to $208.5 million. Expenses were up 4% due in part to the printing facilities expansion at the Post. Ad volume was down 1.5% from first-quarter 1998. Daily circulation was unchanged, but Sunday circulation slipped 2%.
Broadcast revenues rose 2% to $80.3 million; magazine revenues slipped 1% to $90.7 million; and cable revenues increased 20% to $80.8 million due to higher subscriber levels and higher rates.

A.H. Belo CORP.
Net income in the first quarter of 1999 slipped 7.6% to $12.6 million from the same period last year due partly to the absence of sports-related advertising in the broadcast division. The Dallas-based company posted diluted earnings per share of 11 cents, beating a consensus estimate of analysts polled by First Call.
Overall revenues rose 0.3% from the year-ago period to $326.6 million. Newspaper publishing revenues rose about 1% for the quarter to $192.5 million. At The Dallas Morning News, retail and general ad volume was up, while classified weakened. Expenses rose just slightly as a result of tight cost controls and lower newsprint costs.
Belo also owns six other dailies, including The Providence (R.I.) Journal; and 22 television stations.

Gray reported a net income loss of $1.6 million in the quarter ended March 31, compared with a $1.5 million loss in the year-ago period.
Revenues rose 12% to $31.4 million in the quarter, or 2% excluding one-time items. Gray bought The Goshen (Ind.) News in March and Busse Broadcasting Corp. and sold an NBC affiliate in July.
Excluding special items, the publishing division reported a 37% increase in cash flow compared with the same period one year ago, due to improved operating results, while broadcast cash flow decreased 3% on a pro-forma basis, due to the absence of sports-related advertising.
Atlanta-based Gray owns four small dailies and 10 network television affiliates.

Reflecting charges from the purchase of four broadsheets in March, net income excluding discontinued operations at Toronto-based Torstar fell 5.1% to $20.6 million in the quarter ended March 31, compared with the year-ago period.
Profits at The Toronto Star fell $4.9 million due partly to softness in some advertising categories.
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