Lee Enterprises: A Fraction Of Its Former Self; 31 Positions Cut At St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE) touched a fresh 52-week low today, and its market cap stands at around $440 million. A little perspective: Just over three years ago, it purchased publisher Pulitzer Inc. for $1.46 billion. That means the value of the combined chains is worth less than a third of what Pulitzer alone was deemed to be worth at the time. Today’s drop follows news that the Lee-owned St. Louis Post-Dispatch will eliminate 31 jobs, according to the paper itself.

The message from management is that the cuts are necessary to accommodate for the weak economy and the bad ad market. It looks like cuts will be made everywhere but editorial: affected areas include circulation, classifieds, production, purchasing, telephone operations and marketing. Some management positions will be eliminated, although the exact number was not specified. The report does not say whether there are any buyout offers on the table.

— Fidelity management recently upped its stake in Lee to 11.5 percent, while longtime investor Bruce Sherman recently eliminated his holdings.

Disclosure: Our co-editor Staci D. Kramer is the partner of an editor at the Post-Dispatch; he is enrolled in the Lee stock-purchase program and pays a premium for their household Lee health plan.

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