Lee Enterprises 4th quarter earnings plunge; stock sinks more than 8 percent to $1.73 per share

The stock price of Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of the Quad City Times and Dispatch/Argus – fell more than 8 percent Thursday (12/12) after the Davenport-based media company reported 4th quarter net income fell 70 percent compared with the same period last year.

Net income for the fourth quarter ended Sept. 29 totaled $1.35 million (1 cent per share), compared with $4.44 million (7 cents per share) in 2018. For the full fiscal year, Lee reported net income of $15.9 million, compared with $47 million in fiscal 2018.

The weak earnings led to a sell-off in Lee shares as the stock price fell 16 cents to $1.73 in afternoon trading.

While the company's digital software platform, TownNews, saw a 10.7 percent growth in revenue during the 4th quarter, total revenues at Lee continued to decline.

For the fourth quarter, total revenues totaled $124 million, a 12 percent drop compared with the $140 in total revenue for the same period last year.

Subscription revenues declined 4.6 percent and advertising and marketing service revenue fell 13 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the same 3-month period last year.

The fall off in earnings came despite a 10.6 percent decrease in operating expenses, including a 9.7 percent reduction in compensation.

For the 12-month period ended Sept. 29, the number of full-time equivalent employees at the company decreased by 11 percent.

In addition to the two newspapers in the Quad Cities, Lee operates 45 other other newspapers and online new sites, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

CLICK HERE to download the Lee 4th quarter earnings news release.

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