The parent company of Tthe Pantagraph newspaper in Bloomington is moving its shares off the New York Stock Exchange and to Nasdaq that trades shares of companies that are generally smaller in size than those on the New York exchange.
The New York exchange warned Lee Enterprises last year about possible delisting because of prolonged low share prices and or low total stock value. Lee’s share price has increased substantially since the warning in May of 2020 as the pandemic took hold. Lee’s share price is up 41% in the last year and 10% over five years.
Lee President and CEO Kevin Mowbray portrayed the move as positive.
"Trading on Nasdaq positions Lee alongside the world's most innovative and forward-thinking technology leaders as we accelerate our ongoing digital transformation," said Mowbray in a company announcement Monday. "We look forward to leveraging Nasdaq’s platforms and solutions to support ongoing engagement with our investors and access to information in a way that is cost-effective and seamless."
The transfer will be effective April 19.
Over five years, Lee earnings have declined 29.5%, company filings indicate. During that period, the media industry median is up 7.8%, according to analysts. Lee revenue is down 2% per year over five years. Earnings per share are down 22% over five years.
Early last year, Lee acquired Berkshire Hathaway media holdings and Berkshire Hathaway became the sole lender to Lee.
“With strong momentum, including the completion of a compelling transaction with Berkshire Hathaway in fiscal 2020, Lee is accelerating our transformation as a top digital news and information provider,” said Mowbray in the statement. “Today, Lee is the fastest growing digital subscription platform in local media, and we are building on our bold course for our digital future as we enter our next chapter. We will be guided by a multi-year strategy that leverages our attractive market position, enhanced balance sheet, well-established digital infrastructure, and talented team.”
Lee said its five-year targets include growing total paid subscribers, reaching 900,000 digital-only subscribers; generating $100 million in annualized revenue from an Amplified Digital Agency, which is expected in three years; and achieving a leverage target of under 2.5x.
Besides The Pantagraph, Lee has news operations in 76 other markets, including the Decatur Herald & Review, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Quad City Times.
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