Lee Enterprises, the Iowa-based company that owns the North County Times, posted an 87 percent drop in third-quarter profit today, as well as a drop in online advertising — a segment that had been growing.

A year ago, its third-quarter profit was $22.5 million. This year, it scraped together $2.8 million in third-quarter profit. The company’s stock has dropped more than 90 percent of its value in the last four years. Alan Mutter, who writes the Reflections of a Newsosaur blog, offers this perspective on how far the company’s value has fallen:

Lee Enterprises (is) worth $145 million, down 93% from $2 billion on Dec. 31, 2004.

An Associated Press story says the company is planning several cost-cutting measures:

The company says it is planning rigorous cost reductions through staff reorganizations, narrower page widths, other newsprint conservation programs and other measures.

Lee has already made one round of cuts locally. Sixteen newsroom employees at The North County Times accepted the newspaper’s buyout offer in February, reducing the editorial staff by approximately 12 percent.

ROB DAVIS

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