Lee stock drops after reporting 3rd quarter revenue decline; soft energy sector in ND hurt classified ads

Stock of Lee Enterprises – owner of 45 daily newspapers including the Quad City Times – fell nearly 20 percent after the company reported Thursday (8/6) that its third quarter operating income declined more than 13 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

Lee reported net income of $2.14 million for the quarter ended June 28, or 3 cents per share. But analysts were concerned about the fall off in retail and classified advertising revenues, which were down nearly 9 percent from a year ago.

Company officials blamed part of the nearly 12 percent decline in classified ad revenues on softening of the energy-related economy in North Dakota, where Lee owns the Bismarck Tribune. Lower auto classified advertising revenues were attributed to smaller car dealerships cutting back on their print advertising.

Lee stock closed at $3.05 per share Wednesday, but fell to $2.78 at the close of business Thursday. The stock declined again Friday (8/7) morning, down to $2.47 per share at noon.

In an unrelated matter, Lee earlier this week began a combined print edition of the Muscatine Journal and Quad City Times.

For Muscatine subscribers, the front page of the combined edition retains the Journal masthead, and a Muscatine focus for its editorial and local news content. The local QC news section of the Quad City Times is included in the combined edition for Muscatine subscribers.

Quad City Times subscribers also may have viewed a revised publication notice on page two, which now lists both the QC Times and Muscatine Journal names under an umbrella organization, QCT Media Group heading.

The new combined editions were launched Monday (8/3), in conjunction with a revamp of layout, design and typography for both newspapers.

CLICK HERE to download the complete Lee third quarter financial report.

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