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McCLATCHY, MEDIA GENERAL, NYT CO. HAVE GOOD SECOND Qs But ad revenue down 26% in period, while classified off 40%.

With all but one of the publicly traded newspaper businesses having reported quarterly earnings, it can be safe to say that newspaper ad revenue plunged almost another 26-3/4 percent when compared to the same period last year, with classified ad revenue down the sharpest of all the categories, with an average (of those companies that cared to report the number) of 40.3 percent.

A number of the reporting businesses made sufficient expense cuts in the quarter to be able to provide actual net income for the period. By the numbers:

*A.H. Belo Corp.: The Texas-based newspaper publisher said that for the three months ending June 30, the net loss was $7.1 million, as compared to a net loss in the same period last year of $3.2 million. The loss per diluted share this year was 34 cents, compared to last year, which was 16 cents.

Total ad revenue declined 30.2 percent, to $87-1/2 million, in the quarter, while circulation revenue was up almost 10 percent, to $33.3 million, and other revenue was down 11.7 percent, to $6.7 million.

Expenses declined 21.1 percent, to $132 million. Belo said it had written off a "customer value management system" in the quarter to the tune of $1.7 million.

The company gave no specifics on ad revenue, other than to say there were "declines in retail, general and classified revenue" in all its markets.

Internet revenue at the company -- which accounted for 7.6 percent of total revenue in the quarter -- was $9.8 million, down 20.8 percent from the same quarter last year.

*Journal Communications Inc.: With an almost 22-percent decline in revenue offset by only a three-percent drop in expenses, it was no surprise that this Milwaukee-based multimedia company saw a net loss in the second quarter of $4.8 million, as compared to net revenue of $9 million in the same period last year.

The net loss per diluted share on its publicly traded stock was 11 cents, compared to net earnings per share last year of 16 cents. On its restricted stock, net earnings per diluted share were 14 cents, as compared to last year's net earnings of 22 cents.

The biggest segment revenue decline came in "other," which was off 37.4 percent, to $5 million, while printing services declined 33 percent, to $11.2 million, publishing dropped 20.1 percent, to $49.4 million, and broadcasting was off 18.2 percent, to $43.7 million. Total revenue declined 21.9 percent, to $109.4 million.

Publishing ad revenue in the quarter dropped 28.3 percent, to $44.8 million, while circulation revenue gained 3.8 percent, to $12.8 million. Direct marketing revenue declined 85.6 percent, to $859,000, while classified ad revenue was down 46.8 percent, to $13.7 million, other ad revenue was off 24.1 percent, to $83,000, national ad revenue dropped 20.6 percent, to $1-1/2 million, and retail was down 18.2 percent, to $28.6 million.

*Lee Enterprises Inc.: A continuing need to correlate its balance sheet with its stock price -- resulting in write-downs -- caused this Davenport, Iowa-based publisher to post a third-quarter loss of $24-1/2 million, as compared to last year's third-quarter net income of $2.8 million.

The loss per diluted share was 55 cents, compared to earnings per diluted share of six cents last year.

Total revenue was off 20-1/2 percent, to $203.8 million, while ad revenue was down 24.3 percent for the period, to $148 million. Classified ad revenue was off 33.2 percent, to $40.7 million, on-line ad revenue in the quarter declined 29.3 percent, to $10.4 million, retail ad revenue dropped 19.9 percent, to $85-1/2 million, niche publication ad revenue was down 17.4 percent, to $3.2 million, and national ad revenue declined 11.4 percent, to $8.3 million.

Combined print and on-line classified employment revenue was down 60.4 percent in the 13 weeks ending June 28, to just under $9-1/4 million, while real estate declined 35 percent, to $9-1/2 million, automotive dropped 30.9 percent, to a little more than $11-1/4 million, and other classified ad revenue was off 8.9 percent, to $17.7 million.

Total ad volume declined 18.6 percent, with national down 21 percent, classified down 20.8 percent and retail off 16 percent.

*The McClatchy Co.: A dramatic cut in expenses -- slashing 28 percent in operating expenses representing $125.4 million and an $18.4 million swing in non-operating income and expenses -- helped propel this Sacramento-based publisher to a 114.7-percent net income increase in the second quarter, to $42.2 million.

This, despite a 25.4-percent decline in overall revenue, which dropped to $335-1/2 million for the three months ending June 28.

Earnings per diluted share were 50 cents for this year's quarter, versus 24 cents for last year.

Total ad revenue for the quarter was off 30.2 percent, to $283.6 million, while total circulation revenue grew five percent, to $69.4 million and other revenue declined 28.8 percent, to $12.3 million.

Combined print and on-line classified ad revenue declined 40.7 percent, to $80.2 million, while national ad revenue was off 34.2 percent, to $24.2 million, other ad revenue was off 26 percent, to $519,000, retail declined 23.9 percent, to $149.4 million, and direct marketing was off 21.8 percent, to $29.4 million.

On-line ad revenue in the quarter was down 2.9 percent, to $46.7 million, with gains in retail (up 48 percent) and national (up 26.9 percent) offsetting the 25.7 percent decline in classified (where the big loser was employment, which was off 54.8 percent).

Print ad volume was off 25-1/2 percent in the quarter, while pre-print distribution declined 14.3 percent.

*Media General Inc.: Even if you take away last year's second-quarter write-down of more than three-quarters of a billion dollars -- a not insignificant take-away -- this Richmond, Va.-based multimedia company still reduced overall expenses by almost 23 percent.

Which was good, because total company revenue in the second quarter declined by 20 percent. And in turn, net income for the quarter was $20.6 million, as compared to last year, when there was a net loss of $532.2 million (which translates to an earnings per diluted share of 90 cents, compared to a loss per diluted share last year of $24.12).

The company gave few quarterly results specifics: it said that publishing revenue declined 20.3 percent and that ad revenue dropped 26 percent, but didn't give dollar values to those percentages (a little back-of-the envelope arithmetic -- which is where all the following dollar amounts come from -- indicates that ad revenue in the quarter was $92.3 million).

Classified revenue was off 35.2 percent, to $33.8 million. At Media General's metro papers, classified employment revenue was down 63 percent, while real estate declined 54.9 percent and automotive was off 27.1 percent.

Retail ad revenue declined 21 percent, to $50-1/2 million, and national ad revenue dropped 18.7 percent, to $8 million.

Circulation revenue was up 11.9 percent, the company said, to $16 million, "driven by single-copy and home-delivery price increases in most markets."

Media General said its interactive media group -- which includes the web sites of both its newspapers and TV stations -- posted an operating loss of $1.1 million in the quarter, compared to last year's quarter's loss of $656,000.

*The New York Times Co.: In another instance of aggressive cost cutting (down 20 percent when compared to the second quarter last year), this publishing company reported a gain on net income of 84.8 percent, to $39.1 million when compared to last year, with earnings per diluted share gaining 80 percent, to 27 cents.

Total revenue at the company was down 21.2 percent for the quarter, with revenue at its News Media Group off 21.9 percent and revenue down at its About.com operation down 5.1 percent.

Total ad revenue at the News Media Group was down 31.9 percent, to $291.4 million, while circulation revenue was up 1-1/2 percent, to $227-1/2 million. Revenue was off the similar percentages at both the company's flagship operation (which includes the International Herald Tribune in Paris) and at its Boston operation (the Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette): 31.7 percent and 31.1 percent, respectively, while at the company's regional newspaper group it was down 33.4 percent.

Classified ad revenue declined 45.4 percent, to $55-1/2 million, while national ad revenue was off 28.8 percent, to $150.4 million, and retail dropped 25.1 percent, to $74.4 million. Classified employment declined 60 percent, to $10 million, classified real estate dropped 47.6 percent, to $21.2 million, classified automotive was down 43.2 percent, to $10.6 million and other classified ad revenue was off 21.8 percent, to $13.6 million.

*The Washington Post Co.: Its multinational education business -- and the weakness of the U.S. dollar -- dropped $19.8 million almost directly onto the bottom line of this education and media company, giving it a second-quarter net income of $12.2 million, versus a net loss of almost $3 million last year, and net earnings per diluted share of $1.30 compared to last year's net loss per diluted share of 31 cents.

Print ad revenue at the company's flagship Washington Post declined 20 percent, to $80 million, when compared to the second quarter of last year. On-line ad revenue declined nine percent, to $23-1/2 million, with on-line classified revenue declining 29 percent.

The company gave no other ad revenue specifics, except to say, "The print revenue decline in the second quarter of 2009 is due to large decreases in classified, zones and general advertising."

While the overall stock market has done well in the last two weeks (the S&P500 was up five percent, to $987.48 between July 17 and July 31), the newspaper business' stocks have soared (the NewsInc. Index rocketed 76.4 percent in the same period, to $219.39). Though much of this exuberance was certainly tied to the earnings gains posted by McClatchy, Media General and The Times Co. (and the associated halo effect), some must also have come from the notion that while things remain bad, the newspaper business seems to have figured out how to pull itself up by its proverbial bootstraps. It remains to be seen whether Wall Street is accurate in that analysis -- it has been wrong so often before, why not now?
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Title Annotation:The New York Times Co
Publication:NewsInc
Article Type:Financial report
Date:Aug 3, 2009
Words:1801
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