Lee Enterprises reports 20 percent decline in first quarter earnings as Alden Global pushes takeover

Lee Enterprises, Inc. today (2/3) reported a 20 percent decline in first quarter earnings compared with a year ago, while efforts by hedge fund Alden Global Capital to acquire the Davenport-based print and online media company intensified.

Lee – owner of the Dispatch/Argus and Quad City Times – earned $13.2 million ($2.21 per share) during the quarter ended Dec. 26, 2021, compared with $16.4 million ($2.79 per share) for the same period a year ago. The lower earnings occurred despite the inclusion of a one-time $12.3-million gain from the sale of company assets.

Meanwhile, Alden Global is seeking to replace Lee's Chairman and CEO Mary Junck and long-time board member Herbert Maloney III on the company's board of directors. Alden has submitted an alternative slate of candidates for the director slots coming up for election at the company's annual meeting to be held March 10.

Alden made an unsolicited offer to purchase Lee in November 2021 for $24 a share. Lee reacted by passing a "poison pill" amendment to make it more difficult for Alden to acquire additional shares in Lee, and has stated the offer from the Manhattan-based hedge fund "grossly undervalues" Lee.

Alden is one of the largest news media owners in the U.S. having acquired Tribune Publishing, owner of nine major metropolitan dailies including the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and the Baltimore Sun, and buying the MediaNews Group, that included the Denver Post and more than 90 other newspapers.

After acquiring Berkshire Hathaway's newspaper group, BH Media, in 2020, Lee has 77 media properties including the St. Louis Post-Gazette, the Omaha World-Herald and the Buffalo News.

CLICK HERE to download the Lee quarterly earnings news release.

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