McClatchy reports bigger first-quarter loss

Published: Friday, Apr. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6B
Last Modified: Sunday, Apr. 28, 2013 - 9:36 am

The McClatchy Co., still trying to fight its way out of an industrywide advertising downturn, reported a first-quarter loss Thursday.

McClatchy, which owns The Bee and 29 other daily newspapers, said it lost $12.7 million, or 15 cents a share. That compared with a loss for the same period last year of $2.1 million, or 2 cents a share.

The biggest culprit was the continued slide in advertising. McClatchy's ad revenue fell 6 percent. Circulation revenue rose 1.6 percent, thanks to the Sacramento company's new online subscription packages.

Total revenue was down 4 percent to $276.7 million.

The loss was widened by one-time costs related to a recent debt refinancing. Excluding those factors, the loss narrowed to $700,000 compared with $2.5 million a year earlier.

"It's nice to see the improvement over last year," said Pat Talamantes, president and chief executive, in a conference call with investment analysts.

He noted that the 6 percent drop in ad sales was slightly better than the 6.3 percent decline recorded in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Newspapers and other traditional media have been losing print ad revenue for several years. The New York Times Co. on Thursday reported an 11 percent drop in advertising.

As McClatchy continues to adjust to a media landscape dominated by the Internet, the company reported $5.8 million in new revenue from its fledgling Plus program, which charges readers for access to sacbee.com and other McClatchy websites. Talamantes said he expects that revenue to reach $25 million this year.

Also, he said online traffic hasn't been damaged by the program. "We have managed to sustain the digital reach," he said.

McClatchy shares closed at $2.66, up 22 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange.

Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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