Rich liberal socialists & university-types just love lipstick on pigs; the rest of us like BBQ sauce or dry rub.
On December 8th the apparatchiks running the corporate umbrella [LEE Enterprises] that owns half of Tucson’s Arizona Daily [Red] Star news-rag, reported from their executive digs in downtown Davenport Iowa—the 4th quarter 2022 results via conference call to a diminished number of stock analysts still covering this near-zombie company.
Putting on the accounting lipstick, they proffered a united front of met expectations, and visions of future prosperity. However, the stock barely budged, having flatlined months ago after defrauding stock buyers in the many university towns their failing business model was constructed for. This, in a successful effort to save LEE from Satan himself during Q-4 to Q-1, 2021-22. Satan being the predatory hedge fund, Alden Global Capital’s Heath Freeman.
Alden now realizes it dodged that zombie bullet, while all those ‘true believers’ who bought LEE stock are licking their battle $$$$ wounds for the cause. LOL.
Naïve newsies at LEE, told by management it was the end of their world, prostrated themselves in print, frantically urging terrified readers to buy LEE stock, “or else Democracy itself would perish.” What rot-gut rubbish. They have no shame, folks; not a damn bit.
And from the looks of the bigger picture they have no real company prospects, either. Right now LEE is deep in survival mode; flailing furiously to keep from going full zombie. And their numbers scream it loud and clear; something the many frustrated Tucson business people should maximize for their own benefit, while hedging against, as recompense FOR DECADES OF LEFT-WING, ANTI-BUSINESS BILE & PROPAGANDA.
LEE owns some 77 major newspaper dailies, and appx. 350 specialty publications in 26 states. They half-own the RedStar with the DC deep-state’s, full propaganda outfit, Gannett, which is appropriately HQ’d in the Washington suburb of Tysons Corner, Va. Gannett also owns the Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix, has now transitioned to ‘Full Zombie’, and is only awaiting an available mortician.
Along with trying to figure out that new-fangled creation, the Internet, and bankrupt twice—LEE is also fighting the long term debt constraints of nearly $ half-billion in junk bond debt, with a 9% coupon rate. [Ouch!] It’s made all the more onerous by diminishing newspaper operating revenue, (they put on a happy face for), of some $781 million, including a smallish growing digital revenue base. They’ve already sold off all their marketable real estate and other assets to lower that stupendous junk bond debt, and yet must still take sizeable 8-figure “impairments of intangible assets & leases” (???). Go figure.
Focusing on their purported salvation, i.e. all-things-digital, we see total D-ad revenue + D-subscription revenue, coming to only $237 million in sales for 2022. This from only 515,000 total estimated digital subscribers (2022). Spread over the major news properties (77) that comes to just ~6700 digital subscribers per newspaper, also revealing $3.1 million in D-sales per big news unit. Speaking of being painted into a corner, LEE allocated a mere $8 million system wide for any kind of needed maintenance and/or investment.
Also, I really doubt these numbers as there’s no breakdown made for the extra 350 little specialty weeklies LEE owns. Let alone any kind of smart synergies they might attempt to make, while management has to count the pencils at the close of business daily.
The stock market cap for LEE is about to breakdown below $100 million, recently in the $ billions, a stupendous cataclysm of wealth destruction. But given their precarious, near-zombie status today, the slightest financial hiccup could sink this rotten propaganda scow.
Therein lays the opportunity for Tucson’s business community; that is if you’re clear-headed, have long memories, and are unsentimental enough to realize these RedStar guys have done you no favors over the decades.
Tucson doesn’t owe this newspaper anything. Not a stinking thing.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.