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Knight Ridder February Ad Statistical Report: Down But Improving

Press release from the issuing company

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 22 - In its best year-over-year comparison since August, Knight Ridder's total operating revenue for the second period was down 6.8%. In its best year-over-year comparison since July, total advertising revenue for the second period was down 7.5%. For the month, retail revenue was down 0.7%. General revenue was down 4.5% and classified was down 15.7%. Help wanted revenue was down 39.9%. Automotive was up 0.5%. Real estate was up 9.1%. As has been the case since the downturn began, San Jose's decline was the company's largest. Other large markets were soft, but considerably less so. Chairman and CEO Tony Ridder said, "In February, we saw sequential improvement, with newspaper advertising down only 7.5% for the month vs. down 13.0% in January. This positive turn occurred even without a recovery in San Jose. Silicon Valley is fundamentally strong and will rebound, as it always does. "In the meantime, we note that the current consensus for Knight Ridder first quarter earnings is $.59. A month ago, reiterating our concern that the first quarter would represent by far our toughest comparisons of the year, we said we felt most comfortable at the low end of a $.55-$.70 range. We continue to believe that is appropriate guidance.'' General advertising revenue was down 4.5% for the month and down 7.5% for the year to date. Telecom, entertainment and advertising addressing the proposed Hewlett Packard/Compaq merger were strong throughout most major markets. For the month, Kansas City was up 16.9%, Fort Worth was up 14.1%, Philadelphia was up 1.4%, Lexington was up 55.2% and Contra Costa was up 5.8%. The other large markets were down. Classified revenue was down 15.7% for the month and down 20.4% for the year to date. All the large markets were down. Retail was down 0.7% for the month and down 1.2% for the year to date. Some markets regained strength. Contra Costa was up 5.0%, Lexington was up 8.4%, San Jose was up 1.8% and Fort Wayne was up 8.2% for the month; the other large markets were soft. Circulation revenue was down 3.3% for the month. Other revenue was down 7.6% for the month, reflecting primarily a decrease in commercial print revenue partially offset by an increase in online revenue.

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