Quad-City based Lee Enterprises, Inc., a major provider of local news, information and advertising in 50 markets, today reported earnings of $3.5 million for its fourth fiscal quarter ended September 24, 2017, or 6 cents per diluted common share.
For the same quarter a year ago, earnings totaled $0.7 million, or 1 cent per diluted common share. For the fiscal year, earnings totaled $28.6 million, or 50 cents per diluted common share, compared to $36.0 million, or 64 cents per diluted common share, in the prior year.
"Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter totaled $36.7 million and was down 1.1% from the prior year. This is an improving trend and the best quarterly Adjusted EBITDA performance, as compared to the prior year quarter, in two years," Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mowbray said.
"We also maintained our industry-leading margins in both the fourth quarter and fiscal 2017. For the fiscal year, Adjusted EBITDA was $144.6 million, a decline of 6.0% from the prior year."
"Digital advertising revenue increased 6.1% and represented 29.3% of total advertising revenue for the quarter," Mowbray said. "For the fiscal year, digital advertising revenue increased 8.0% and accounted for 27.8% of total advertising revenue, making it our best annual performance in the category since 2014.
"Our pricing and premium content strategies drove a subscription revenue increase of 0.6% in the fourth quarter," Mowbray added. "The past two quarters of positive subscription revenue resulted in the fiscal year subscription revenue being down only 0.6%.
"A soft print advertising environment contributed to overall revenue declines," Mowbray said. "Fourth quarter total revenue was down 6.8%, a performance very close to last quarter and better than the trend from earlier in the year. Total revenue was down 7.1% in fiscal year 2017."
Mowbray also noted the following same-property financial highlights for the quarter and fiscal year:
• Digital retail advertising, which represented 61% of total digital advertising in the September quarter, grew 7.9% in the quarter and 9.4% for the fiscal year, driven by advertising from local retailers.
• Total digital revenue, including digital advertising and digital services, totaled $26.7 million for the quarter, an increase of 3.8% over the prior year. Total digital revenue increased 6.7% for the 2017 fiscal year. Monthly page views of Lee mobile, tablet, desktop and app sites averaged 244.2 million, an increase of 11.6% over the prior year quarter.
• Total advertising and marketing services revenue decreased 10.2% in the quarter.