Shares of McClatchy, publisher of 30 daily papers and many non-dailies across the U.S., were down as much as 10% today after the company posted a continuing-operations loss of $2 million, narrowed from $37.7 million a year ago.
Factoring in a one-off benefit from the sale of parts of its business, the company netted a first-quarter profit of $2.2 million, compared with a loss of $37.5 million in the year-ago period.
Overall revenue fell 8.2% year over year to $335.6 million, and ad revenue dropped 11.2% to $252.9 million. Circulation revenue inched up 1.8%. to $69.7 million. Expenses fell 21% year over year.
Chairman and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement that revenue trends were improving, and that advertising revenue was growing 2.2%. His predictions for coming quarters were not overly comforting:
Even though we expect advertising revenues to be down in the second quarter, we believe the ad trend will continue to improve. We will remain vigilant on costs, but the savings run rate going forward will be lower than we experienced in the first quarter because we have cycled over the major restructuring initiatives implemented in early 2009. Even so, we expect cash expenses to be down in the high single-digit range in the second quarter. And we expect that continued favorable revenue trends and stringent cost controls will allow us to at least maintain if not grow cash flow from operations in 2010.
The company currently carries debt of $1.91 billion, vs. $1.95 billion a year ago.