Why Lee Enterprises, Incorporated Shares Popped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Lee Enterprises, Incorporated (NYSE: LEE  ) are up more than 8% after peaking at a 10% gain in early trading today. Investors reacted favorably to the company's preliminary earnings report, which showed an encouraging improvement in digitally sourced revenue despite weak results otherwise.

So what: Lee Enterprises reported revenue of $177.4 million for its fiscal first quarter, a 4% decline from the year-ago quarter. Adjusted quarterly net earnings rose to $0.24 per share from $0.20 a year ago, although without adjustments, Lee's EPS was $0.22, down from $0.28 a year ago.

Retail ad revenues were down 4%, and classified ad revenues were down 9%, but digital advertising and marketing revenues were up 10% year over year, and now comprise 15% of Lee's total ads-and-marketing revenues. Total digital revenue was up 13% year over year, and now comprises 12% of all revenues.

Now what: This isn't exactly an encouraging report, all things considered. The growth in mobile revenue hasn't offset all other declines, and online advertising is a difficult way to make money for even the best news publications. After a near triple during the past year, this little stock looks like it might have gotten too far ahead of itself.

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