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(April 12, 2001) -- Dow Jones & Co. today reported profits in the first quarter sank 81% from last year's levels.

The company, which had seen its flagship paper, The Wall Street Journal, set records last year thanks to the tech boom, was hit severely by the slow advertising market. Revenue for the quarter dropped to $459.87 million, from $550.75 million in the same quarter of 2000, and net income dropped to $6.18 million from $88.67 million in the first quarter of 2000. The company blamed the drops on a stellar performance in 2000, when first quarter revenue rose 19% and earnings 86% over the same time in 1999.

Additionally, Dow Jones' results included a $10.7 million charge related to employee layoffs announced last month and the shuttering of and other online ventures. The layoffs would total about 202 of its 8,000-plus strong workforce, or about 2% of its workers.

Advertising revenues at The Wall Street Journal dropped 24% to $298.6 million and lineage per issue dropped 30.9%. Revenues at the Ottaway chain of local newspapers showed a drop of 1% to $79.9 million and lineage dropped 2.9%. Last month the company told analysts that ad volume was its lowest level in five years.

Dow Jones also warned analysts to revise earnings estimates downward, and while it made the range it had suggested by earning 17 cents per share, the disparity between that figure and the original 56 cents analysts had agreed on testifies to the challenges facing print in today's environment. -- Jon Fine and Mercedes Cardona

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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