The Lee papers have a near monopoly on the print media in Montana, and, according to recent reports- they may be in trouble. According to a report by Accuracy in the Media, Lee Enterprises stock is down nearly 64%.
Lee Enterprises and Media General are two of the most troubled companies, as they are carrying heavy debt load and must refinance the debt at higher rates by 2012. But at this point the market isn’t confident that they will succeed. Media General, for example, was selling for $34 a share just four years ago and may be headed for penny-stock land at the rate they are going.
The advertising slump which had dramatically affected newspaper profits in 2008-09 rebounded somewhat, buoyed by political ads in the 2010 campaign. But in an off-election year they have once again resumed their downward trek.
Newspapers continue to fiddle with their digital strategy by erecting paywalls and developing electronic editions for e-readers, with modest success at best, which help staunch the losses from their print editions but lack the advertising component that fuels their profits.
The Wall Street Journal had this earlier this year.
Newspaper chain Lee Enterprises Inc. is on the verge of saving itself from bankruptcy—and many of its debt holders are livid.
Lee, weighed down by about $1 billion of debt, has long been high on the list of potential bankruptcies. But thanks to the roaring market for debt of risky companies, Lee is preparing to sell junk bonds that would enable it to pay off its obligations and give it a new shot at survival.
At least for their Montana operations- they can probably count on the huge 2012 elections here in the state to bailout their local operations to a certain extent.