Lee Enterprises (LEE), which operates 58 local newspapers in 23 states, actually managed not to shrink advertising revenue in August: Advertising revenue at “same properties” was flat year over year and is down only marginally year-to-date. Including circulation revenue, the company shrank -1.5%. This performance did not stop Merrill from slapping a SELL on the stock this morning. Online revenue details after jump.
Online advertising revenue jumped an impressive 48% year-over-year, but this represented a deceleration from the 56% increase year-to-date and the 63% in July. Lee’s online classified business now a $5 million-a-month business ($60 million a year) and represents about 6% of the company’s overall business. This is a smaller percentage than at other newspaper companies, which may be why online revenue is growing so fast. The company’s sites get 11 million visitors a month and average $0.48 of revenue per visitor (about $6 a year). This is slightly less revenue than is generated by competitors like the New York Times ($8).