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Lee Enterprises Sees Profit on Cuts

(Article updated with information on Lee third-quarter earnings.)

DAVENPORT, Iowa ( TheStreet) -- Cost cutting efforts helped Lee Enterprises (LEE - Get Report) swing to a profit in the third quarter.

For the quarter ended June 27, the company reported earnings of $10 million, or 22 cents per diluted share, compared with a loss of $24.5 million, or 55 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

The company lowered costs in a number of areas. Expenses related to newsprint and ink declined 13.5% to $13.6 million from $15.8 million. Costs related to its workforce, including restructuring and compensation, were drastically cut by 74.4% to $395,000 from $1.5 million, and the average number of full-time equivalent employees dropped 5.9%.

Revenue fell 3.6% to $196.4 million from $203.8 million.

Total advertising revenue came in at $140.8 million, down 4.9%, from $148 million. The company saw declines in revenue in each of its advertising sectors with the lone exception of digital advertising which spiked 24.8%. The biggest declines were seen in automotive, real estate and national advertising.

"Although total revenue remains negative year over year, the rate of decline has slowed by nearly half as our digital sales initiatives gain steam rapidly," said Mary Junck, chairman and chief executive officer of Lee Enterprises.

The number of unique visitors to Lee digital sites increased 23.3% to 49.5 million during the quarter. The company has been delivering news, information and advertising to mobile devices as it looks to focus on developing its digital presence.

For the nine months ended June 27, Lee reported earnings of $40.9 million, or 92 cents per share, compared with a loss of $124.9 million, or $2.81 a share.

The company cut its newsprint and ink expenses by 36.1% and slashed expenses related to workforce by 77.1% to $1.1 million from $4.7 million.

Revenue dropped 8.4% to $592 million from $646.20 million.

Total advertising revenue dropped 10.2% to $425.8 million from $474.10 million. The biggest declines were seen in employment, automotive and real estate advertising while its digital advertising revenue rose 9.4%.

Lee shares are down 4.5% to $2.54.

-- Reported by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

Follow Theresa McCabe on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Copyright 2010 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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