REVENUES DOWN FOR KNIGHT RIDDER

CEO Calls Recovery 'Frustratingly Slow'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Publisher Knight Ridder joined the chorus of other media companies that have talked recently about an end to the ad slowdown and a decidedly gradual recovery.

"We continue to think we are coming out of the recent recession much as we did in '90 and '91," said Chairman-CEO Tony Ridder during a conference call with analysts Wednesday to discuss first-half financial results. "That is, steadily and surely, but frustratingly slowly."

While company's

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earnings per share for the second quarter, excluding a number of one-time charges, rose 3.4%, revenue was off 3.2% to $715.1 million. For the first half, revenue fell 5.5% to $1.4 billion.

Mr. Ridder began the call touting the earnings-per-share increase and saying revenue strengthened in June, but soon warned revenue was likely to be down slightly for the full year, to $16 million, or about 0.5%.

Ad revenues remained stressed in the second quarter, falling 3.5% from last year's results. Pressed by one analyst to cite any specific signs of ad strengthening, rather than merely making easier comparisons to the recession-wracked second half of 2001, Mr. Ridder pointed to local auto and real estate advertising, and said retail "seems to be doing OK."

"It's not as if everything is in the tank, by any means," he said.

Help-wanted classifieds continued to be a trouble spot, posting a second-quarter drop of 24.7%. In the second quarter, retail advertising rose 0.5%, and national advertising fell 7.0%.

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