We've reported on several occasions about how the talk of an advertising recovery has generally been slow to help results at, or investors in, major newspaper companies. Yesterday the lukewarm news continued to roll off the presses: Pulitzer (NYSE:PTZ), owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Arizona Daily Star, and a long list of other daily and weekly newspapers, reported solid second-quarter and first-half numbers.

Total second-quarter revenue at Pulitzer rose 6.6% year-over-year; it was up 5.1% for the first half. Comparable revenue, which leaves off revenue picked up through acquisitions not reflected in the year-ago numbers, was up 5.7% for the quarter and 4.2% for the six-month period. Classified ad sales have been particularly strong, driven in large part by a recovering job market: Help-wanted revenue jumped more than 19% in Q2.

Q2 and first-half net income were up only slightly from last year's numbers. What to make of this in light of the competition's figures is difficult to say: Circulation-scandal-embroiled Tribune's (NYSE:TRB) net, for example, was off substantially on charges and other matters, while New York Times (NYSE:NYT) saw better profit growth but a smaller sales increase. Many market watchers say the improved ad numbers seen this spring have yet to turn into a full-scale recovery -- just what investors don't want to hear.

Pulitzer continues to expand despite the one-step-forward, one-step-back progress the newspaper market appears to be making nationwide. Earlier this month it purchased a pair of California weeklies, while it grabbed a pair of Illinois real estate magazines back in May in a bid to capitalize on continued strength in the housing market. (Pulitzer owns several other Illinois publications, offering the prospect of cost savings and other efficiencies.)

And so the company, with its solid balance sheet and strong free cash flows, would seem to be well positioned in advance of any sustained upturn in the market. For now, however, investors appear underwhelmed: The shares were up less than 2% in yesterday's trading, and the company's stock joins the above -- as well as the likes of Gannett (NYSE:GCI) and Knight Ridder (NYSE:KRI) -- in the ranks of newspaper companies that have underperformed the S&P 500 over the last six months, ad recovery or no.

Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story.