Lee Enterprises reports earnings increase thanks to $19.7 boost from one-time income tax adjustment

Lee Enterprises – owner of the Quad City Times and Dispatch-Argus newspapers – today (2/1) reported higher net income and earnings for the first quarter ended Dec. 24, thanks primarily to a $19.7-million income tax adjustment stemming from the recently passed federal tax reform legislation.

The Davenport-based media company reported net income for the first quarter of $35.3 million with $19.7 million of that total coming from a one-time adjustment to its deferred tax assets and liabilities to reflect the lowering of the federal base tax rate from 35 to 21 percent.

On a per share basis, excluding the impact of the new tax legislation, the company earned 19 cents per share for the three-month period, compared with 16 cents per share for the same quarter a year ago.

Operating revenues for the quarter totaled $143.8 million, down 6.6 percent compared to the same period in 2016. Advertising and marketing service income was down 9 percent, subscription revenue fell by 1.3 percent compared with the first quarter last year.

Helping offset the decline in revenues, the company reported compensation costs declined 7.5 percent and newsprint and ink expenses were down 15 percent compared with the same period a year ago.

"Digital advertising revenue increased 2.8 percent and represented 27.9 percent of total advertising revenue for the quarter," President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mowbray said. "All digital revenue, which includes digital advertising, revenue from TownNews.com (provider of a content management system for other online news sites) and other digital services revenue, totaled $27.3 million, an increase of 3.2 percent." 

The media company also reported Thursday it has sold the newspaper and media operations in Maysville, Kentucky, to Champion Media LLC. The Ledger Independent is published five days a week and has 3,654 subscribers. The maysville-online.com news site has approximately 6,300 visitors each month.

Champion Media owns four daily newspapers and 18 weeklies in North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and Minnesota. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

CLICK HERE to download a copy of Lee's first quarter financials.

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