Post-Dispatch Parent Made Bank (Sorta) This Last Quarter

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Circulation, print advertising and online ads this past quarter all declined (again) on the books of Lee Enterprises, the corporate parent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

But so did the costs of compensation, newsprint and ink. Which is good news for Iowa-based Lee. 

The company today reported earnings growth for the first quarter of fiscal 2010, and for the second fiscal quarter in a row. A share of Lee earned 62 cents for the period ended December 27, 2009, compared to a loss of $1.10 per share one year ago.  

The Post-Dispatch is Lee's flagship, though the publisher owns more than a dozen other newspapers around the country. 

One way the chain cut costs at the P-D was through layoffs - forced and "voluntary." The last round of pink-slipping came in August, shortly before this most recent fiscal quarter began. 

Former art critic David Bonetti was among those who took the voluntary layoff then. Former managing editor Pam Maples and former features editor Christy Bertelson also left the paper at that time. 

There may not be any more trimming for a while. In a news release about the earnings growth, Lee's CEO Mary Junck struck an optimistic note:

"We credit our continuing aggressive sales initiatives and a gradual brightening in the advertising environment," said Lee in the statement. "This upturn, coupled with our streamlined cost structure, has enabled Lee to post earnings growth for the second quarter in a row, and we believe we are well positioned to continue meaningful growth as the economy recovers."

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