Chairman-CEO Peter Kann offered two observations on near-term conditions: "First, it's not good. Second, it's not getting all that much better." Mr. Kann reminded the crowd that last week the company said linage for its flagship newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, was down 24.4% year-over-year -- and June "could be worse."
No upturn yet
The current economic
"A true depression in much of the technology sector means that recovery for Journal advertising will lag behind that for most newspapers," Mr. Kann said.
Mr. Kann said the company's group of community newspapers, Ottaway, had essentially flat ad volume in May. Other recent results were "far below expected, let alone normal results," said Rich Zannino, executive vice president and chieft financial ooficer. Mr. Zannino did say that company expense levels were below those of 1999, and pointed to margin improvements at Ottaway and in its electronic publishing arm.
The introduction of the Journal's thrice-weekly "Personal Journal" section has won plaudits, but Mr. Kann made it sound as if it could use more ads. He said the section would offer "special volume discount plans to spur advertising" this summer.
High hopes for 'Personal Journal'
Nonetheless, Mr. Kann made it clear the company expects great things from the Personal Journal, citing the $40 million generated in ad revenues by the weekly Weekend Journal section in the last 12 months as a benchmark of sorts.
The company also announced a move into business-to-business markets, as Gordon Crovitz, senior vice president of electronic publishing, said the company will publish a version of the Wall Street Journal Online devoted to health-care-related topics.