Last updated: March 17. 2013 3:05AM - 117 Views

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(AP) Lee Enterprises Inc., the publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other newspapers, reported flat net income in its fiscal first quarter.

The company earned $14.6 million, or 28 cents per share, in the three months that ended on Dec. 30. In the same period a year earlier, it also earned $14.6 million but its earnings per share totaled 32 cents because it had fewer outstanding shares.

Excluding one-time items, Lee would have earned $10.5 million, 20 cents per share in the latest quarter, down from adjusted earnings of $16.8 million, or 37 cents per share, a year ago. Lee said this year's adjusted results were hurt by higher interest costs. Lee said its interest expense rose to $21.8 million from $15.3 million.

Revenue fell 3 percent to $185.5 million from $192 million a year ago. Advertising revenue fell 6 percent to $128.7 million from $137.3 million. Digital advertising revenue increased 4.8 percent to $16.3 million. Circulation revenue rose 4 percent to $46.2 million from $44.5 million. That figure includes digital subscriptions.

Operating costs fell 4 percent to $134 million from $139 million.

Lee, which emerged from a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, said it repaid $29 million of debt in the quarter, bringing its balance to $916.9 million. As a result, the company said it was more than a year ahead of projections in reducing debt.

Shares of the Davenport, Iowa-based company slid a penny to $1.23 in late morning trading.

Associated Press
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