Posts Tagged ‘McClatchy’

Newspapers cut fewer jobs in 2010

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Paper Cuts, the site that tracks newspaper layoffs, reported far fewer jobs lost at the nation’s papers in 2010 compared to the two previous years, says Fishbowl L.A. Of course, there are far fewer jobs left to be cut.

The industry shed some 2,800 jobs this year –  layoffs and buyouts the site tracks of newspaper personnel “from editor to ad rep, reporter to marketing, copy editor to pressman, design to carrier, and anyone else who works for a newspaper” – compared to about 15,000 in 2009 and 16,000 in 2008. The total does not count jobs lost through attrition, i.e., left unfilled after someone leaves voluntarily.

“But it’s also become more obvious that many papers are laying off employees and never publicly acknowledging it,” Paper Cuts’ Erica Smith told FBLA. “Even with many of those numbers filled in, though, I don’t think the total will hit 2008 or 2009 levels.”

The Paper Cuts site has Google Maps mash-ups that show job cuts at individual papers dating to 2007, including  2010 job cuts at The News & Observer in Raleigh (21; owned by McClatchy), The Winston-Salem Journal  (“unknown”; Media General), the Asheville Citizen-Times (4; Gannett),  the Star News in Wilmington (2; New York Times), NASCAR Scene in Charlotte (18; Advance Publications), the Independent-Tribune of Concord-Kannapolis (“unknown”; Media General), The Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. (7; McClatchy), The State of Columbia, S.C. (12; McClatchy), The Greenville (S.C.) News (7; Gannett), and The Morning News of Florence, S.C. (“unknown”; Media General).

Print revenue losses swamping newspapers

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

AP business writer Andrew Vanacore takes a look at the 3Q earnings reports from McClatchy, New York Times and others, and says things don’t look good for the industry.

“[P]ublishers still haven’t been able to reverse a slump in sales more than three years after it began” and they are not “able to draw enough new business from … digital operations to make up for the losses in print,” he writes.

“The outlook entering the holiday season isn’t much better.”

The NYT and McClatchy saw worse declines in September than a year before despite less-bad year-to-year numbers for the prior two months.

“On a conference call with analysts, McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt had to fend off repeated attempts to get a more detailed picture of where things stand going into the holidays.

“‘We intentionally did not release any results for October or speak to them because we don’t think they are meaningful at this time, and we lack visibility as we look forward into the fourth quarter,’ he said.”

McClatchy’s KR buy called ‘worst’ move

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Bloomberg is calling the McClatchy Company’s acquisition of the much bigger Knight Ridder newspaper chain the worst of the biggest takeovers made during the last mergers-and-acquisitions boom.

“McClatchy’s purchase of the Knight Ridder Inc. newspaper chain, for $4.1 billion in 2006, ranked the worst of the 100 on Bloomberg’s list, with McClatchy shares underperforming the Bloomberg Advertising Age AdMarket 50 Index by 93 percentage points,” the article says. “Sacramento, California-based McClatchy borrowed cash to buy the chain as newspaper real-estate advertising plunged. Elaine Lintecum, McClatchy’s treasurer, declined to comment.”

The move made McClatchy, which was the nation’s eighth-largest newspaper publisher, the nation’s third-largest chain (once it sold off some Knight Ridder papers), but saddled it with enormous debt just as the industry began its ongoing decline.

More than half of the 100 mergers and acquisitions should never have happened, Bloomberg says.

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.

McClatchy shows ‘hope’ despite 83% revenue fall

Friday, July 30th, 2010

So, this is good news these days? “Despite an 83 percent drop in net income, the results announced Thursday offered at least one sign of hope: McClatchy’s ad revenue, its lifeblood, fell by its lowest rate in more than three years.”

The report by the AP’s Mike Liedtke says McClatchy’s 8 percent fall in ad revenue is the best performance since a 5 percent decline in the first quarter of 2007. But, as he also points out, today’s year-to-year comparisons are against poor performances. That’s 8 percent less than a number that was bad to begin with.

Net income for the quarter was $7.3 million, down from $42.2 million a year ago. Total revenue fell 6 percent to $342 million, the AP says.

The company is blaming the earnings plunge on “higher interest costs as we extended debt maturities,” according to the Sacramento Business Journal’s report.  Interest payments for the quarter were up 44 percent to $49 million compared to $34 million at the same time last year after restructuring in February that extended repayment to 2017.

McClatchy was struggling with a debt of $1.8 billion as of the end of June, the SBJ says.

The company also sold about 200,000, or 8 percent, fewer copies of its weekday newspapers this past quarter, though higher prices eased that hit a little.

McClatchy management projects a 4 to 6 percent revenue decline year-to-year for the coming third quarter.

“While the economic recovery hasn’t been robust or smooth, we believe it is beginning to spread across the markets we serve,” CEO Gary Pruitt said, according to the AP report.

Employment advertising, half of which is online these days, was up 1.5 percent in May, marking the first month of growth in employment advertising revenue in four years, the SBJ says. Employment advertising rose 0.8 percent in June.

Gannett jumps into online marketing services

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, announced an initiative last week to  sell online marketing services to local businesses. McClatchy newspapers, the nation’s third-largest publisher, announced a similar program in April.

A company memo quoted by the Gannett Blog says, “GannettLocal is a new business model focused on working with small and medium-sized business to provide them a high-touch marketing consultation and a suite of multiplatform solutions (search engine marketing, e-mail, digital display, website and geo-targeted print/flyers) delivered by a team of dedicated experts over the phone.”

That’s “a high-touch marketing consultation … over the phone.”

GannettLocal is based in Phoenix and already in use by the the website azcentral at Gannett’s Arizona Republic.

Gary Pruitt lies to stockholders

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Gary Pruitt, at McClatchy’s shareholders meeting Wednesday, boasted of “McClatchy’s unwavering commitment to public service journalism” and vowed that the publishing company would continue to “provide relevant, high quality journalism.”

Anyone who reads a McClatchy newspaper knows the quality of the journalism has declined precipitously as the company has cut positions, and anyone who works for, or has worked for, McClatchy knows that its management is committed only to the bottom line — money.

Pruitt bases his claim of ongoing quality on national recognition of the work of three McClatchy papers: The Kansas City Star winning the Robert F. Kennedy Award, the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat winning the George Polk Award and the McClatchy Washington Bureau being named as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for national reporting. But this work, and other solid reporting at McClatchy newspapers, is the work of local journalists who remain dedicated to their profession, not McClatchy. Pruitt gloms onto their efforts while he has eliminated the jobs of about a third of their colleagues and makes plans to eliminate more.

Perhaps the job cuts were inevitable given the economy and the changes in the newspaper industry. But to maintain that they have not adversely affected the quality of the newspapers is simply a lie and an insult to those whose lives have been disrupted by these layoffs.

Pruitt is every bit as despicable as the CEOs of BP, Wall Street banks, Big Tobacco and other industries who care solely about profits and don’t give a thought about who they use or hurt along the way.

McClatchy to reap $230M in sale

Friday, May 7th, 2010

The McClatchy Company is about to pocket $230 million from a man interested in a sure-fire advertising vehicle.

But, Mark Siffin isn’t advertising in the company’s newspapers. He wants land McClatchy owns so he can build a parking garage and erect a pair of 20-story-tall electronic billboards on top of it, according to the South Florida Business Journal.

Siffin will pay $230 million for 10 acres owned by McClatchy’s Miami Herald. He plans to build the garage and a retail center next door. He has already paid McClatchy $16 million toward the purchase, which included an extension on the contract to close in 2011.

Siffin still has to get a city commission to approve a new ordinance allowing the electronic billboards. Some residents oppose them.

Regardless, McClatchy gets to sell land it has been trying to unload for some time at a good price; the same lot was under contract for $190 million in 2005, the height of the real estate market, according to the Journal.

You’d think $230 million could save a lot of journalists’ jobs, but you wouldn’t want to bet on it.

McClatchy ‘profit’ debatable; more job cuts hinted

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The McClatchy Company continues to be hampered by debt, with a reported loss in the latest quarter attributed “primarily to one-time charges for refinancing debt and restructuring,” according to the Sacramento Business Journal.

The publisher’s first quarter report on Thursday showed improvement, thanks to reduced expenses — obtained chiefly through layoffs, which may not be over  — and an advertising climate that isn’t as bad as it was.

But the bottom line was  “a net loss from continuing operations of $2 million, or 2 cents per share,” the Business Journal says. “In the same period last year, the company incurred a net loss from continuing operations of $37.7 million, or 45 cents per share.

“Without the charges, McClatchy earned $4.8 million, or 6 cents a share, for the quarter, compared to a loss of $22.9 million, or 28 cents a share, in first-quarter 2009.”

The Associated Press report, on the other hand, says “a one-time accounting gain related to newspapers that it sold a few years ago” allows McClatchy to claim a profit for the quarter. “[N]et income, including discontinued operations, came to $2.2 million, or 3 cents per share,” the AP says. It lost $37.5 million, or 45 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier, which included charges for severance.

Advertising revenue dropped 11.2 percent to $253 million, better than the 20.5 percent drop in the fourth quarter of 2009. In last year’s third quarter, ad revenue fell 28.1 percent.

Total revenue for the quarter was 8.2 percent less than a year ago, at $335.6 million compared to $365.6 million.

McClatchy’s stock fell following the report, perhaps, Benchmark Co. media analyst Edward Atorino told the AP, because “some investors may have been looking for more details about how McClatchy plans to cut costs, given that it expects further revenue declines.”

The company’s  costs, excluding severance payments, declined more than 21 percent in the first quarter, compared with the same period a year earlier, largely because of lower payroll and newsprint expense, the AP said. McClatchy has cut about a third of its work force since the middle of 2008.

“In a statement, McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt said the company ‘will remain vigilant’ on costs but acknowledged that second-quarter expenses will not decline the way they did in the first,” the AP said. “During a conference call, Pruitt said the company would try to avoid further job cuts, but he didn’t rule them out.”

The debt restructuring involved extending  “approximately $1 billion in maturities from mid-2011 to mid-2013 and beyond, including the $875 million of senior secured notes due in 2017,” Pat Talamantes, McClatchy’s chief financial officer, said in the release.

McClatchy’s debt remains from its $4.5 billion purchase in 2006 of the much-larger Knight-Ridder newspaper chain.

McClatchy’s stock fell $0.75, or 10.98 percent, to close at $6.08 Thursday.

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.”