McClatchy reduces debt by $523M in fourth quarter

McClatchy reported significantly less net income in the fourth quarter as the newspaper publisher continued to be hurt by a decline in print advertising.

Excluding certain items, McClatchy, owner of The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer, reported net income of $11 million, versus net income of $29.4 million, during the fourth quarter of 2013.

Total revenues in the quarter were $317.6 million, down 5.9 percent from the same period last year. Advertising revenue declined 10.8 percent to $209.2 million.

CEO Pat Talamantes said in a statement that the company’s fourth quarter results were hurt by the “continuing sluggishness in the print retail environment and also reflected a difficult comparison to the 2013 fourth quarter, our strongest quarter for revenue performance in 2013. Additionally, national advertising remains a challenging category across the industry for regional newspaper companies.”

Like other newspaper publishers, McClatchy has been struggling to offset declining print revenues with revenue from its digital initiatives. The company now gets nearly two-thirds of its revenue from from sources other than print newspaper advertising.

McClatchy’s digital-only advertising revenue increased 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter when you exclude revenue from 2013. McClatchy received $147 million from the sale of last year.

McClatchy reduced its debt by $523 million in the quarter, largely with proceeds from the sale, the sale of the Anchorage Daily News and the sale of its interest in, which netted it $347.5 million after taxes.

The company’s total debt now stands at $1 billion.

For the year, McClatchy’s revenue declined 3.9 percent to $1.168 billion. Total advertising revenue was down 8.4 percent.

McClatchy shares were up about 2 percent in early trading Wednesday. The stock is down 35 percent over the past year.