Knight-Ridder Hits Targets

Revenue rises 3%.
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Knight-Ridder (KRI) said its fourth-quarter profit fell but beat Wall Street's expectations.

The San Jose, Calif., newspaper publisher made $83 million, or $1.24 a share, down from the year-ago continuing operations profit of $97 million, or $1.25 a share. Revenue rose to $820 million from $795 million a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were looking for a $1.22-a-share profit on revenue of $818 million. The latest quarter included 12 cents a share in land sale gains and 12 cents in offsetting charges on job cuts, strategic alternatives and contractor issues.

For the quarter, ad revenue rose 3% from a year ago to $659 million, circulation revenue rose 2.3% to $136 million and other revenue rose 7.9% to $25 million. Operating income fell 8.2% from a year earlier to $155 million.

"Faring better than some others, we ended the quarter with classified up 4.8% -- its best performance of the year," said CEO Tony Ridder. "Help wanted and real estate continue to be robust. Retail was down 1.1%, and national was down 6.8%. Auto classified turned in another soft performance. Declines in department stores, home electronics and grocery negatively impacted retail. All national categories with the exception of preprints (up 2.9%) were soft.

"Knight Ridder Digital revenue of $45.5 million was up 55.4% for the quarter; KRD annual revenue of $164.5 million was up 54.5% for the year. Average monthly visitors to KRD sites in the fourth quarter were 9.7 million, up 9.0% over the same period in the previous year."