Lee Enterprises, Inc. earns $12.4 million in first quarter despite 7% drop in operating revenue; promises focus on more cost reductions in 2017

Lee Enterprises, Inc. earned $12.4 million in the first quarter ended Dec. 25 despite a 7.2 percent drop in operating revenues for the three-month period compared with a year ago.

The Davenport-based company Thursday (2/2) reported earnings of 22 cents per share, compared with 21 cents per share in the first quarter of 2015.

Helping offset the drop in operating revenues (including a 10.4 percent decline in advertising and marketing revenues) was a 6.4 percent reduction in operating expenses.

The company also was able to add $3.1 million to its quarterly income when the price of its stock increased the value of stock warrants issued in 2014 as part of a refinancing. Without the stock warrant value adjustments, the company earnings would have been 16 cents per share.

The growth of digital revenues continue to be highlighted by company officials as first quarter digital advertising and digital services totaled $26.4 million, a 6.5 percent increase from the same period a year ago. Subscription revenues, however, fell 2 percent for the period compared with last year.

In the company's news release, executives promised to continue to reduce expenses and pay down the company's $599-million debt, which cost the media firm nearly $15 million in interest in the past quarter.

The number of full-time people employed by the company at the end of 2016 totaled 3,820, down 7 percent from December 2015.

CLICK HERE to view the company's first quarter financials.

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