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Lee’s revenues decline nearly 4%; number of full-time employees down over 7%

MASON CITY – Lee Enterprises reported earnings last week for its first fiscal quarter which ended on December 25, 2011.  Lee Enterprises owns the Globe Gazette in Mason City and other small newspapers and publications.

Among the main points Lee reported were: Earnings per share were down; Operating revenue declined of 3.9% compared with a year ago; Combined print and digital advertising revenue decreased 6.1%; real estate revenue decreased 17.9% and other classified decreased 15.2%; Digital advertising revenue increased 10.4%. Compensation declined 5.7%, with the average number of full-time equivalent employees down 7.2%.

Lee’s press release:

DAVENPORT, Iowa (Jan. 17, 2012) — Lee Enterprises, Incorporated (NYSE: LEE) reported today that for its
first fiscal quarter ended December 25, 2011, earnings totaled 32 cents per diluted common share, compared with 42 cents a year ago. Excluding refinancing costs and other unusual matters, adjusted earnings per diluted common share(1) were 38 cents, compared with 32 cents a year ago.

Mary Junck, chairman and chief executive officer, said: “Advertising sales in the quarter continued largely in line with recent trends and reflected our expectations, given the still-uneven economy. Comparisons with a year ago should take into account that our December 2010 quarter was our strongest of the year, with revenue then down only 1.0% to prior. We continue to expect revenue trends to improve slowly in 2012, as we press forward with more digital and print initiatives. Meanwhile, we expect to complete our Chapter 11 refinancing process within a few weeks. Our refinancing agreements, along with our continued strong cash flow, will provide a solid financial footing as we continue reshaping Lee for future growth.”

FIRST QUARTER OPERATING RESULTS
Operating revenue for the quarter totaled $199.6 million, a decline of 3.9% compared with a year ago.
Combined print and digital advertising revenue decreased 6.1% to $142.5 million, with retail advertising down 5.4%, classified down 9.7% and national up 1.4%. Combined print and digital classified employment revenue decreased 0.3%, while automotive decreased 4.1%, real estate decreased 17.9% and other classified
decreased 15.2%. Digital advertising revenue on a stand-alone basis increased 10.4% to $16.2 million.

Print revenue on a stand-alone basis decreased 7.9%. Lee’s websites and mobile and tablet products attracted 21.8 million unique visitors in the month of December 2011, an increase of 10.4% from a year ago. Mobile page views in December increased 179% to 28.3 million.

Circulation revenue increased 2.7%. Operating expenses, excluding depreciation, amortization and unusual matters, decreased 5.0%.

Compensation declined 5.7%, with the average number of full-time equivalent employees down 7.2%.
Newsprint and ink expense decreased 5.2%, a result of a reduction in newsprint volume of 5.9%. Other
operating expenses decreased 4.1%. For the 2012 fiscal year, operating expenses, excluding depreciation,
amortization and unusual matters are expected to decrease 1.5-2.5% from the 2011 level, in line with
previous guidance.

Operating cash flow(2) decreased 1.1% from a year ago to $53.5 million. Operating cash flow margin(2)
increased to 26.8% from 26.1% a year ago. Including equity in earnings of associated companies,
depreciation and amortization, as well as unusual matters in both years, the company recognized operating
income of $39.2 million, compared with $49.2 million a year ago. A non-cash curtailment gain of $10.2 million in the prior year accounted for the change in operating income between years. Non-operating expenses, primarily interest expense and debt financing costs, decreased 6.8%, due to lower debt balances. Income attributable to Lee Enterprises, Incorporated for the quarter totaled $14.6 million, compared with $18.9 million a year ago.

ADJUSTED EARNINGS AND EPS FOR THE QUARTER
Unusual matters affecting year-over-year comparisons include debt financing costs in both years,
reorganization costs in the current year and non-cash curtailment gains in the prior year quarter. The
following table summarizes the impact from unusual matters on income attributable to Lee Enterprises,
Incorporated and earnings per diluted common share. Per share amounts may not add due to rounding.

DEBT AND FREE CASH FLOW(3)
Debt was reduced $10.6 million in the current year quarter. Free cash flow totaled $29.2 million for the
quarter, compared with $41.1 million a year ago. Debt financing and reorganization costs totaling $10.1
million paid in the current year quarter adversely impacted free cash flow. Free cash flow in the 12 months ended December 2011 totaled $77.7 million, net of $21.4 million of debt financing and reorganization costs paid.

REFINANCING AND NYSE UPDATES
Carl Schmidt, vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer, said Lee’s voluntary, prepackaged Chapter 11 case is on course for timely completion. He said a confirmation hearing has been scheduled for January 23, 2012, and that the Court will be asked to set January 30 as the date to make the agreements effective and conclude the company’s Chapter 11 status. He said Lee has not drawn on the $40 million of courtapproved interim financing and is not expected to do so. The $40 million facility will become a revolving credit upon conclusion of the refinancing.

Schmidt said Lee continues to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, although the stock price currently remains below the minimum average closing price of $1 per share. “Lee’s price cure period will extend through its annual meeting in March 2012 in order to receive shareholder approval to implement a reverse stock split, if necessary, as permitted under NYSE rules. In addition, Lee continues to operate under a planned cure period with respect to its minimum market capitalization that provides for a maximum cure date no later than February 2013, with continuing assessment by the NYSE throughout,” he said. An increase in the average closing price to $1 per share would return Lee to compliance with all quantitative listing requirements, absent a reverse stock split.

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