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DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Lee Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: LEE), parent company of The Times and Democrat, on Thursday reported earnings of $10.7 million for its first fiscal quarter ended Dec. 30, 2018, or 18 cents per diluted common share.

For the same quarter a year ago, earnings totaled $35.3 million, or 63 cents per diluted common share. Adjusted for the impact of the 2017 Tax Act as well as the warrants, adjusted earnings per diluted common share totaled 18 cents in the current year quarter compared to 19 cents in the prior year quarter.

"We are off to a great start in fiscal year 2019 with strong performance in many key areas," said Kevin Mowbray, president and chief executive officer. "Total digital revenue increased 10.7 percent in the first quarter due to an 8.0 percent growth in digital advertising revenue and a 27.7 percent growth in digital services revenue," Mowbray said.

"Revenue in our local controllable segment also performed well. Revenue from local retail accounts was down 2.6 percent in the first quarter, the best quarterly trend in several years.

"On a stand-alone basis, revenue at TownNews increased 19.9 percent due to increased market share, including an increase in broadcast customers as well as gains in video revenue from 2018 technology acquisitions," Mowbray said. "We remain steadfast in our growth strategy around local controllable accounts, consumers and digital services as we drive our digital transformation."

Mowbray also noted the following financial highlights for the quarter:

  • Digital advertising revenue increased 8.0 percent for the quarter and represented 33.6 percent of total advertising revenue.
  • Digital retail advertising, which represented 63.3 percent of total digital advertising in the December quarter, grew 10.1 percent, driven by an increase in advertising from local retailers.
  • Monthly visits to Lee mobile, tablet, desktop and app sites averaged 75.4 million, and page views per visit, one metric we use to monitor engagement, increased 12.9 percent.
  • Subscription revenue decreased 4.1 percent in the quarter. Digital only subscribers increased 55.9 percent.
  • Total revenue decreased 5.3 percent for the quarter.

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