Lee sells California newspaper properties for $5 million; stock continues slides to 52-week low

Davenport-based Lee Enterprises last week announced the sale of its Napa, California newspaper building and property for $5 million, but the strategy to sell assets to pay down debt hasn't stopped the steady decline in the company's stock price.

Lee stock price fell to a new 52-week low Thursday (9/10), closing at $1.47 per share. The company's stock reached $5.42 per share on March 6, 2014, and has since been losing ground. In early August, the stock was just above $3 per share, but has lost half its value in just the past month.

Sale of the Napa land and building is part of the company's "ongoing real estate monetization program," Lee's Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Ron Mayo said in a news release issued September 2.

Also on the sale block are Lee properties in Provo, Utah; Bloomington, Illinois; Portage, Wisconsin, and St. Louis.

"As we continue to transform our business through consolidation, outsourcing and other means, we have excess real estate assets in certain markets," Mayo said in the news release.

Proceeds from the Napa property sale will be used to pay down one of its highest rate loans.

Lee owns the Quad City Times and 45 other daily newspapers, and has more than $770 million in debt, most of it incurred a decade ago when it purchased the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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