Posts Tagged ‘Lee Enterprises’

Better papers tap readers to build revenue

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Newsonomics author Ken Doctor finds that newspaper companies are turning to higher prices for the paper itself to battle revenue declines, rendering the traditional 80/20 ad-circulation split obsolete. And  the ones that are doing it well are getting away with charging readers more because they’ve made their papers better, he says.

“While the digital news world seems consumed with conversations about paywalls and memberships, it is old-fashioned print circulation revenue that is the gainer in the post-80/20 formulas,” Doctor writes for Nieman Journalism Lab. “Sure, advertising’s ski slope decline has greatly altered the 80/20. So has, though, the significant up-pricing of both subscriptions and single copies over the past three years.”

A leader in the trend is apparently The Dallas Morning News, which raised the price of monthly subscriptions from $18 to $30 and is earning 38 percent of its revenue from circulation, 54 percent from advertising, and 8 percent from “contract printing plus,” he says.

The Dallas paper’s parent, A.H. Belo, reported a 6.6 percent increase in circulation revenue in the second quarter, while The New York Times Company reported a 3.2 percent increase and Scripps had a 4.5 percent increase in the first quarter (Scripps’ 2Q report is due Monday).

“Significantly, I think, each of those companies may have done a better job of minimizing newsroom cuts and reinvesting — at least a little — in that now higher-priced product,” Doctor says.

Better than whom? Better than McClatchy, which reported a 2.5 percent circulation revenue decline in the second quarter (and has raised prices); Lee, which was down 4.4 percent; and Gatehouse, which was down 2.5 percent.

Doctor has the current splits for each of the four publishers, and for McClatchy, the one we follow, it’s pretty much the newly declared old-hat model of 20 percent circulation, 76 percent ads and 4 percent other.

Gannett leads off 1Q reports with a hit

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Cost cutting and a not-as-bad advertising climate in the first quarter made Gannett Co. look good in its 1Q earnings report Friday, and the tide lifted not all but some boats.

“Gannett did not issue formal earnings guidance for the current quarter or the rest of the year, and CEO Craig Dubow declined to give specifics on how ad revenue is shaping up in April,” The Associated Press said. “But he told analysts on a conference call that the year was ‘off to a great start.’ He added: ‘The momentum that we had at the end of the year continued through the first quarter.’

“Gannett was the first major publisher to report earnings for the January-March period and could offer a preview of what will come next week from McClatchy Co., Lee Enterprises Inc. and The New York Times Co.”

After surging to a new 52-week high of $19.68 in early trading, Gannett shares retreated to $18.04 Friday afternoon, down $0.10 on the day. McClatchy rose $0.42 to $6.46, and Lee shares jumped $0.31 to $4.35. The New York Times was down $0.36 to $12.35.

Gannett, which owns USA Today and more than 80 other daily newspapers along with TV stations, said its net income jumped 51 percent despite a 4 percent decline in revenue. Last year it cut 1,400 jobs, or about 3 percent of its work force.

As for McClatchy, which reports April 22, “JP Morgan forecasts that ads will be off by 8.4 percent as circulation continues to grow,” says PaidContent.org. “While the circulation gains might not offset negativity on the ad front, cost-cuts should help margins jump to 25 percent from 1Q ’09’s 12 percent. Ebitda should rise 91 percent to $83 million.

“In general, McClatchy’s heavy presence in Florida and California means that its fortunes are directly tied to the economic winds in those two troubled states. Ultimately, that will add to the general industry-wide woes affecting the publisher.”

Down is the new “up”

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A couple of “less bad is good” stories today:

Monthly magazines’ latest quarterly decline in ad pages, at 5.7 percent, is “not the same as a gain but a much smaller loss than the double-digit plunges that have been seen since the third quarter of 2008,” Advertising Age says. Ad pages fell in 94 monthlies this quarter and grew in 59, according to the Media Industry Newsletter.

Total revenue for Lee Enterprises fell just 9.2 percent in January compared with a year ago — the first single-digit percentage decline since 2008, and the fifth consecutive month in which the year-over-year revenue comparison moderated, according to Editor & Publisher.

Continued rough sledding ahead for newspapers

Monday, February 15th, 2010

A look at fourth-quarter 2009 financial results from five of the 10 publicly owned U.S. newspaper companies that have reported so far shows that “it’s clear the industry as a whole is still in deep trouble, with no strong indication that better days are ahead,” says a Nieman Journalism Lab report.

The report says that in Q4 2009 the industry “saw its 14th consecutive advertising revenue decline; the last nine of those quarters were double-digit declines.” And nothing indicates that January, typically a bad month for revenue, is looking any better.

The report examines the five publishers individually: Gannett, New York Times Co., Lee Enterprises, Media General and McClatchy Co.

At McClatchy, it finds strong online revenue growth comparatively, but scoffs at CEO Gary Pruitt’s claim that expectations of revenue declines in the low- to mid-teens percentage range in January indicate a recovery. “In other words, McClatchy expects the Q4 decline of 20.5 percent to be followed in Q1 2010 by a decline of somewhat less than 15 percent, and considers that to be an ‘improving advertising trend.'”

In another problem area, “Besides nearly $2 billion in long-term debt, McClatchy also disclosed that at year-end, its pension plans were underfunded by $494 million in the ‘qualified’ plan (their standard defined benefit plan, which is frozen), and another $100 million in the non-qualified supplemental executive-level plan. This accumulation of future obligations makes McClatchy one of the most-leveraged publishers out there.”