Weekly Media Stocks Roundup: Earnings, Earnings, Earnings!

wall_street_cover03262010.jpg Shares in media companies ended the week with wildly different results; some gained tremendously and others plummeted in a solid week for the broader market. The S&P 500 finished up 2.1% at 1217.28.

Quarterly earnings from several major newspaper publishers played a role in media stocks’ moves this week. Declining revenue was a common theme among the companies that reported, but so was cost-cutting, and so several marquee media names managed to eke out profits for the first quarter.

Shares of The New York Times Co. (NYT) fell 6% over the past five days to $11.61, even though the company announced on Thursday that it made a profit of $52.7 million in the first quarter, up from a loss of $61.7 million a year ago. Declining ad revenue, particularly on the print side, continued to hinder the business.

USA Today publisher Gannett (GCI), which reported earnings last week, got a little encouragement when a Zacks Investment Research issued a “strong buy” rating on shares in the company. Shares inched up 1.3% during the week to close Friday at $18.28

Sacramento Bee and Miami Herald publisher McClatchy (MNI), meanwhile, didn’t fare quite as well, announcing a first-quarter loss from continuing operations of $2 million. Shares plummeted 15% to $5.52.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Virginia-based newspaper publisher Media General (MEG) posted a first-quarter loss of $16.7 million that resulted from tax and interest charges. In any case, the loss was narrower than it was in the first quarter of 2009. The stock gained 20% to end at $12.70.

Weekly stock results for Journal Communications (JRN) and , Lee Enterprises (LEE).


Journal Communications, which operates TV stations and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, among other things, on Tuesday
announced a first-quarter profit of $10.4 million, up from a loss of $400,000 a year ago. It also said it had cut its debt by $16.7 million. Shares closed Friday up 17% at $5.89.

Fellow Midwestern publisher Lee Enterprises said it swung to a fiscal second-quarter profit of $1.9 million from a loss of $2.9 million in the second quarter of 2009. Shares ended the week essentially unchanged at $4.33.