BLOOMINGTON — Digital revenue increased almost 11 percent in the first quarter for Davenport-based Lee Enterprises Inc., parent company of The Herald & Review.
The company on Thursday reported earnings of $10.7 million for the quarter ending Dec. 30, or 18 cents per diluted common share. For the same quarter a year ago, earnings totaled $34.6 million, or 61 cents per diluted common share.
"We are off to a great start in fiscal year 2019 with strong performance in many key areas," said Kevin Mowbray, president and chief executive officer. He said the total digital revenue increase was "due to an 8 percent growth in digital advertising revenue and a 27.7 percent growth in digital services revenue."
Total revenue decreased 5.3 percent for the quarter. Operating revenue totaled $136.2 million, a decrease of 5.3 percent compared with a year ago. Operating expenses were down 5.5 percent.
Revenue from local retail accounts was down 2.6 percent in the first quarter, the best quarterly trend in several years, Mowbray said.
Lee-owned TownNews showed 19.9 percent higher revenue thanks to an increase in broadcast customers and gains in video revenue from 2018 technology acquisitions.
Digital advertising revenue increased 8 percent for the quarter and represented 33.6 percent of total advertising revenue. Digital retail advertising, which represented 63.3 percent of total digital advertising in the December quarter, grew 10.1%, driven by an increase in advertising from local retailers.
Monthly visits to Lee mobile, tablet, desktop and app sites averaged 75.4 million. Pageviews per visit, a metric used to monitor engagement, increased 12.9 percent.
Subscription revenue decreased 4.1 percent, but digital-only subscribers increased 55.9 percent. Average daily newspaper circulation totaled 700,000 in the current quarter. Sunday circulation totaled 1.1 million.
Lee, based in Davenport, Iowa, owns properties in 49 markets across the United States.