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The fourth-quarter was good to the St. Louis-based pure-play newspaper company, as overall company advertising rose 4.6 percent, for a gain of almost $4 million from 2001. This gain -- aided by last year's poor performance of interest income and an accounting change -- increased net income for the quarter from just less than $3 million to just a little more than $12 million.

For all of 2002, the company only showed slight gains in advertising (rising 1.1 percent to $325.6 million), but an overall net income gain of almost 227 percent, from $10.6 million to $34.7 million and its EBITDA rose to $101.6 million in 2002 from $83.9 million in 2001.

Diluted earnings per share for the quarter were 57 cents, versus 14 cents last year, while diluted EPS for the year were $1.62, versus 50 cents last year.

PTZ said retail advertising rose 12 percent for December, national advertising (including pre-prints) rose 49 percent but classified revenue declined 3.2 percent, attributing it to "continued weakness in St. Louis," home of the company's flagship paper, the Post-Dispatch.

Owner of a 50 percent stake in Arizona's Tucson Newspaper Agency (the partner is Gannett Co. Inc.), PTZ said advertising revenue in Tucson for December grew 4.5 percent, a 3.3 percent increase in retail, a 17.4 percent decrease in national, and a 10.7 percent increase in classified.

The company said in December the Post-Dispatch grew full-run retail advertising lineage by 19.5 percent and full-run general advertising by 21.6 percent, but its full-run classified ad lineage dropped by 4.8 percent and its part-run retail and classified dropped by 16.9 percent (the company attributed the retail gain to a new Wednesday food section, while the part-run loss was blamed on a cut-back in zoned editions).

Page views at the combined PTZ web sites increased by 19 percent in December, with a big gain in St. Louis -- 39.2 percent -- offset by a big loss in Tucson -- 37.4 percent.

The mixture of its two metros -- one in the growth-oriented economy of the southwest and the other in the mature economy of the midwest -- combined with its smaller properties sprinkled around the country, gives PTZ its nice, even earnings.
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Title Annotation:company's financial data
Article Type:Company Profile
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 3, 2003
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