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Knight Ridder Indicator: Ad Revenue Slides 14.1% in October

Press release from the issuing company

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 16 -- It was another rough month for the newspaper business in October, with total operating revenue down 12.4% below the same period a year ago. For the year to date, it's down 7.8%. Total advertising revenue was down 14.1% for the month and down 8.2% for the year to date. The weakness cut across most markets. Knight Ridder Chairman and CEO Tony Ridder said, "Obviously, I would like nothing better than to report that we see an uptick. But overall, I cannot point to meaningful improvement. Retail was better than in September, but September was a particular disappointment. General performed at about the same level as September; classified performed marginally worse. In November, for the first time, we will start to hit markedly easier comparisons, so that should make a positive difference. "Meanwhile, we continue to keep costs reined in tightly. Newsprint prices continue to drop. We just announced the completion of CareerBuilder's bid to buy Headhunter.net, and Real Cities, our national network of regional Web sites, just announced the affiliation of Media General, with newspapers in Richmond, Tampa and Winston-Salem. That brings our network to 58 U.S. markets, including 16 of the top 25 and 27 of the top 50. "With business as slow as it has been, we now believe the guidance given at the end of the third quarter -- which indicated comfort with the consensus estimate of $2.91 -- is roughly $.10 too high.'' Retail revenue for the month was down 3.3% on a linage decrease of 6.7%. For the year to date, retail revenue was flat on a linage decrease of 4.7%. For the month, St. Paul was up 1.0% and Miami was flat. The other major markets were down. General ad revenue for the month was down 21.5% on a linage decrease of 23.7%. For the year to date, general revenue was down 10.0% on a linage decrease of 16.4%. For the month, Kansas City was up 8.7%, Charlotte was up 7.5% and Wichita was up 24.2%. The other major markets were down. Classified ad revenue for the month was down 22.5% on a linage decrease of 11.2%. For the year to date, revenue was down 15.4% on a linage decrease of 5.6%. All of the major markets were down. The primary shortfall was in help wanted, which was down 50.4%. Real estate showed improvement, with an increase of 22.4%. Factored part-run linage was down 7.6% for the month. Circulation revenue was up 2.0% for the month. Other revenue was down 29.0% for the month, primarily reflecting a decline in operating results from Detroit (which under new accounting rules are shown as a net number), and a decline in online and commercial print revenue.

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