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Stock of Lee Enterprises, owner of the North County Times, is up almost 50% to $3.17 this morning (Sept. 29) on good news from Gannett, the largest newspaper chain. Lee stock has been as low as 24 cents within the last 52 weeks. Gannett estimated that its third quarter earnings will significantly top Wall Street's expectations. The news sent Gannett stock up 17.48% to $11.73. That stock has been as low as $1.85 in the last year. Other newspaper stocks are moving up in reaction.

However, newspaper stock upmoves could represent more Wall Street speculation. MediaPostNews reports that ad spending in local and national newspapers dropped more than 24% in the first half of this year.Martin Langeveld of the Nieman Journalism Lab thinks ad spending dropped close to 30% in the second quarter. It will drop 25% in the third quarter, he says. Newspaper ad spending this year will be down 43% from the peak of 2005, he says.

Meanwhile, a battle seems to be shaping up in San Francisco. Moneybags Warren Hellman plans to launch a locally focused online news operation there. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times plan to launch Bay Area editions featuring local news. According to SFAppeal.com, the metro editor of the San Francisco Chronicle sent a memo to her staff, claiming, "You are going to smash whomever is naive enough to poke their noses in our market." Sorry, the word is "whoever."

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Visduh Sept. 29, 2009 @ 12:54 p.m.

Does Lee still own Napp Systems of San Marcos? They supply press plates to many newspapers around the US. This may be a reflection of hope for a bottoming for newspapers in general, and not for Lee's own papers.


Don Bauder Sept. 29, 2009 @ 3:10 p.m.

Response to post #1: Lee sold Napp in 1996 to Polyfibron. Napp has since been sold to MacDermid Printing Solutions. Lee's move today sounds like crapshooting by gamblers in the market. Best, Don Bauder


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