McClatchy posts 4Q loss on debt refinancing charge

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 07, 2013 23:15 hrs

The McClatchy Co., publisher of 30 daily newspapers including The Sacramento Bee and The Miami Herald, said Thursday that it posted a loss in the fourth quarter after booking a one-time charge for refinancing debt.

The loss in the three months through Dec. 30 came to $30 million, or 35 cents per share. A year ago, the company posted a quarterly profit of $42 million, or 49 cents per share.

The debt refinancing caused a $60 million after-tax charge, or roughly 70 cents per share.

Revenue rose 1 percent to $355.7 million, but the gain was primarily due to an extra week that the previous year's quarter didn't have. On a comparable 13-week basis, revenue fell 5 percent to $333 million from $351.4 million.

Still, the company said its effort to increase digital advertising revenue is paying off. For the comparable 13 weeks, total digital ad revenue was up 3.5 percent to $51.3 million compared with the same period a year earlier. Revenue from digital advertising made up 20 percent of the company's total ad revenue, compared to 18.5 percent a year ago.

"Our unrelenting focus on growing our digital business continues to be rewarded," said McClatchy CEO Pat Talamantes.

Circulation revenue was down 2 percent to $65.7 million over 13 weeks.

Like other newspaper publishers, McClatchy began charging readers to access online stories of most of its newspapers during the quarter. Under the system, customers must pay for content after viewing a certain number of free articles each month. The company said its "Plus Program" generated $1.2 million in circulation revenue in 2012, and is expected to generate $20 million by the end of 2013.

The company issued $910 million in bonds due in 2022 at a 9 percent annual rate to refinance $846 million in bonds due in 2017 at 11.5 percent.

McClatchy's chief financial officer, Elaine Lintecum, said the refinancing should reduce the company's interest payments by $15 million in 2013. The company had debt of $1.63 billion as of Jan. 17, down slightly from $1.64 billion at the end of 2011.

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