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Shares in Lee Enterprises climb after fiscal 4Q earnings rise boosted by digital revenue

The Davenport media company's digital push appears to be paying off with digital advertising revenue expanding 12.6% to $30.3 million for the quarter
The headquarters of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in Missouri
Lee Enterprises publishes print and digital editions of 47 daily newspapers and 300 weekly newspapers in 22 states

Lee Enterprises Inc (NYSE:LEE) shares climbed Friday after the media giant which publishes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported a double-digit rise in fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, boosted by solid growth in digital revenue.  

For the quarter ended September 2018, the media company which operates in 49 markets, posted earnings of $4.4 million, or $0.07 a share. This stacks up favorably with net income of $3.5 million, or $0.06 per share clocked in the same period a year ago.

Investors took note and sent shares in the Davenport, Iowa-based media giant up 6% to $2.19.

READ: Why Lee Enterprises caught the attention of Warren Buffett and the smart money

For the full year, revenue totaled $544, and net income rose to $47 million, or $0.82 per share. That's an increase of 64.5% from fiscal year 2017 net income of $28.6 million, or $0.50 a share. The company bested revenue estimates, which hovered around $527.3 million.

Gains in digital media proved to be a bright spot for the company. Total digital revenue, including digital advertising and digital services, was $30.3 million for the quarter, up 12.6% compared with the same period a year ago.

"Total digital revenue, which includes digital advertising revenue and digital services revenue, increased 12.6% in the quarter and totaled $112.8 million in the fiscal year," said Lee Enterprises CEO Kevin Mowbray.

"Over the last seven years, total digital revenue on a same-property basis has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 8.1%, due in part to the substantial revenue growth at TownNews," he added.

The company said it reduced debt by $15 million in the quarter. As of September 30, the principal amount of debt was $484.9 million.

Lee Enterprises publishes 47 daily newspapers, 300 weekly newspapers, and classified and niche publications in 22 states with print and digital editions.


Contact Uttara Choudhury at [email protected]

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