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.
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]