, the newspaper publisher, reported a 15.7% decline in first-quarter earnings.
Lee earned $22.8 million, or 50 cents a share, in the first quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $27 million, or 60 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding a charge of 12 cents a share for debt-redemption and transition costs related to the acquisition of Pulitzer, Lee met analysts' estimate of 62 cents a share.
Higher operational expenses related to Pulitzer led to Lee's operating margin to fall by 600 basis points to 17.3%. Income before taxes declined by 16.3% to $35.9 million due to $22.7 million financial expenses related to Pulitzer.
Lee acquired Pulitzer for around $1.46 billion in June 2005.
Lee posted operating revenue of $302.6 million this quarter. Excluding the impact of Pulitzer and other acquisitions, revenue increased by 0.4%. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had estimated sales of $307.5 million.
Lee said that the early retirement program announced on Nov.1, 2005, is expected to result in pretax savings of $6.0-6.5 million for the fiscal ending Sept.30, 2006.
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