Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lee loses $24.5M in third quarter

Lee Enterprises reported a $24.5 million quarterly loss today.

Revenue fell 20.5 percent to $203.8 million. CEO Mary Junck said the company is cutting operating expenses by 22 percent and paying off $18 million in debt. So far, stock prices are down more than 15 percent today.

Post your thoughts on what this means in the comments.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stockholder expecting good news in earnings report

Ariel Investments LLC, Lee's largest stockholder, believes newspapers will beat analyst estimates for the next year and a half as the advertising decline levels off and moves to cut expenses pay off.

“With all the cost cutting, you just have to have some reasonable growth in revenue and you’ll have spectacular earnings growth,” said John Rogers Jr., chief executive officer of Chicago-based Ariel Investments LLC, which is also McClatchy Co.’s second-biggest holder. “This economy is going to recover and people are going to advertise again.”

Of course, some of that cost cutting has been layoffs.

As of June 30, Ariel had 4.44 million shares of Lee stock, or 11 percent. Ariel is also Gannett's largest stockholder (28.5 million shares, or 12 percent).

Lee will release its third quarter earnings on Thursday.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New publisher at Montana Standard, Independent Record

Randy Rickman was appointed regional publisher for two Montana papers, The Montana Standard in Butte and the Helena Independent Record, on May 13. Rickman had been the publisher of Lee's central California newspapers since 2003.

(Via e-mail)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch outsources circulation, lays off 39

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch laid off 36 circulation and 3 classified employees on May 22. Circulation jobs were outsourced to The Times of Northwest Indiana.

On July 8, members of the St. Louis Newspaper Guild rejected a second furlough request. In a previous vote, the union agreed to a furlough in exchange for a no-layoff guarantee from Lee. Lee countered, offering a guarantee of no layoffs through September in exchange for the weeklong furlough. That is the request the union rejected on July 8.

Lee and the union are working on a new contract. Lee started negotiations by asking for a 23 percent wage cut -- 15 percent in the first year and 5 percent each in the second and third years of the contract. Other proposals include:
  • The ability to lay off employees for any reason and suspend employees for up to three days without "just cause."
  • Eliminating of paid maternity leave, retiree medical and life insurance, 401(k) match and a guaranteed base for commission sales reps.
  • Increasing the employee share of medical premiums to 30 percent from 25 percent.

(Via e-mails)

Popular Daily News writer laid off

Features writer/editor/columnist Cathy Zimmerman was laid off from The Daily News in Longview, Wash., on May 18. Zimmerman had been at the paper for 25 years.

(Via e-mail)

Lee earnings out Thursday

Lee's earnings report is due Thursday. Gannett and McClatchy have reported higher than expected earnings lately, which has helped Lee's stock. Gannett and McClatchy were expected to post losses; so is Lee.

Friday, July 24, 2009

2 Lee papers outsource printing

The Chippewa Herald in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont., are outsourcing printing to other Lee papers.

The Montana Standard moved press operations to Helena on July 13. The Standard's six pressmen were offered jobs in Helena; most of them declined.

The Chippewa Herald will outsource its press and insertion operations to the LaCrosse Tribune in LaCrosse, Wis., on Aug. 11.

(Via e-mails)

Lee Lodge price cut again

Need a getaway? The price for Lee Lodge has been dropped to $3.45 million.

Last year it started at $4.5 million. In January, that price was cut to $3.83 million.

Re-launching Lee Watch

My, how time flies.

After a three month hiatus, it is time to start this blog again. The lapse was unintentional at first; I apologize.

Double identities can be tricky. I am a Lee Enterprises employee, and have been for several years. I started this blog a year ago to keep track of and find out what is happening at Lee newspapers. It is a mission that others have started an abandoned for various reasons. In this case, it can be attributed to a bit of burnout, but also job security.

Well, to hell with that. Let's get started again, shall we?

Thanks to everyone who continued to send tips and e-mails; I'll be posting that information soon.