Its news release reports:
"In a year where revenue has been challenged, we closed 2009 with our strongest quarter. We showed sequential improvements in revenue comparisons throughout the quarter, including an improving automotive category," said Steven J. Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Journal Communications. "This revenue performance, together with significant, and in many cases permanent reductions in our cost structure, resulted in increased operating margins and net earnings for the quarter.
"Our focused financial discipline allowed us to generate nearly $77 million in cash from operations for the year. We reduced debt by more than $20 million in the quarter and $63 million for the year, enhancing our financial flexibility.
"As we move into the first quarter of 2010, we expect revenue comparisons to continue to improve, helped by Olympic and political advertising. We will remain diligent on cost controls and will continue to execute our local market business strategy in order to position Journal for a return to top line growth."
Note that unless otherwise indicated, all comparisons are to the fourth quarter ended December 28, 2008.
For the fourth quarter, revenue of $112.2 million decreased 16.4% compared to $134.3 million. Operating earnings of $15.4 million included a $1.2 million non-cash impairment charge for broadcast licenses and a $1.0 million charge for workforce reductions in the quarter. Excluding these two items and a $336.3 million non-cash impairment charge for goodwill and broadcast licenses and a $1.1 million charge for workforce reductions, both in the fourth quarter last year, operating earnings of $17.6 million compared to $12.6 million, an increase of 40.4%. Net earnings were $7.2 million compared to a net loss of $223.0 million.
In the fourth quarter 2009, basic and diluted net earnings per share of class A and B common stock were $0.12 for both. Excluding the impact of the $0.6 million after-tax non-cash impairment charge and $0.5 million after-tax charge for workforce reductions, basic and diluted net earnings per share of class A and B common stock were $0.14 for both. This compared to basic and diluted net loss per share of $4.46 for both in 2008. Excluding the impact of the $228.7 million after-tax non-cash impairment charge and the $0.7 million after-tax workforce reduction charge in 2008, basic and diluted net earnings per share of class A and B common stock were $0.12 for both in 2008.
EBITDA (net earnings (loss) excluding the gain/loss from discontinued operations, net; total other expense, net; provision (benefit) for income taxes; depreciation; amortization; and non-cash impairment charges) of $23.8 million increased 26.4% compared to $18.8 million.
The operating margin was 13.8% this year. Excluding the charges for non-cash impairment and workforce reductions this year and last year, the operating margin was 15.7% compared to 9.3%. The operating margin improvement is a result of significant cost reduction efforts throughout the year.