ProJo parent posts $18M profit amid widespread layoffs

NEW MEDIA INVESTMENT GROUP reported a profit of $18.2 million in 2018, amidst reports of widespread layoffs around its many publications. / PBN FILE PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
NEW MEDIA INVESTMENT GROUP reported a profit of $18.2 million in 2018, amidst reports of widespread layoffs around its many publications. / PBN FILE PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD

PROVIDENCE – New Media Investment Group reported net income of $18.2 million, or 31 cents per diluted share in 2018, a turnaround from a $915,000 loss in 2017, or a loss of 2 cents per diluted share.

New Media owns several papers in the region, including the Providence Journal, Newport Daily News, Fall River Herald News and the New Bedford Standard-Times.

The company reported $1.5 billion in revenue for the year, a 13.7 percent increase year over year.

“2018 was a year of strong progress for New Media,” said Michael E. Reed, New Media president and CEO. “I am very pleased with the operational execution and the financial results we achieved across many areas of our business.

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“We deployed over $200 million of capital in 2018 acquiring leading media and experiential businesses in important markets which are already integrating well into our portfolio,” added Reed. “Our track record illustrates that we are seen as a preferred acquirer of local news franchises, due to our commitment to quality local journalism and the successful execution of our business model.”

The company closed on its purchases of The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City and Progressive Business Media in the fall. At the same time, same-store revenue fell over the year by 5.3 percent, after removing the effects of the company’s acquisitions.

As reported by Business Insider in early February, the company has been “quietly laying off reporters and photographers across its publications” around the country, including at local publications in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Business Insider said the company had a reputation for “for rapidly expanding through acquisition and making deep staffing cuts.”

New Media reported that it incurred costs of $15 million in integration and reorganization costs, compared with $8.9 million in such costs in 2017.

The company said that it operates in more than 580 markets in the United States, including 145 daily newspapers.

The company also moved to shorten customer’s subscriptions by charging for inserts. Other methods, as seen by policies held by the Providence Journal, prevents subscribers from receiving credits or refunds for not delivering their paper for fewer than 14 days.

The company’s advertising revenue for the year increased 6.5 percent to $728.3 million. Circulation revenue increased 21.2 percent year over year to $575 million in 2018. And commercial printing and other revenue increased 21.3 percent to $222.7 million.

The company paid $87.2 million in dividends in 2018, compared with $75.6 million in 2017. Cash flow from operations fell 0.9 percent to $109.6 million.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor. Email him at Bergenheim@PBN.com.

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