Lee August Advertising Revs Actually Not Horrible

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.

Full analysis of the newspaper industry’s decline here.
Detailed spreadsheet analysing monthly revenue trends by newspaper here.

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).