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Lee Enterprises to begin trading on Nasdaq

Lee Enterprises to begin trading on Nasdaq

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Lee Enterprises announced Monday it intends to transfer its stock exchange listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

Shares of Lee, based in Davenport, Iowa, are expected to begin trading as a Nasdaq-listed security on April 19, with the common stock continuing to trade under the “LEE” symbol.

The media company publishes 75 daily newspapers. The dozen Lee newspapers in Nebraska include the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal Star. The Daily Nonpareil of Council Bluffs is among Lee’s Iowa newspapers.

Kevin Mowbray, president and CEO, said the move will not affect Lee’s stock price or value but will enhance the company’s visibility as “a leading digital news and information provider.”

Tim Millage, Lee’s chief financial officer, said the move to Nasdaq will position the company “alongside some of the world’s most innovative and pioneering technology leaders.”

“This will enhance our visibility as a digital platform for news and information, exposing Lee to a new audience of investors that recognize the significant long-term value potential of our increasingly digital-first content and advertising platforms,” Millage said.

The media company continues to focus on growing its digital presence, “as the media landscape continues to evolve and audiences and advertising dollars shift from print to digital,” Mowbray said during a call outlining the company’s steps to grow digital capabilities.

The company outlined a three-pillar approach that includes transforming the presentation of local news, accelerating overall subscription growth, and diversifying and expanding offerings for advertisers.

Lee grew its digital-only subscribers more than 69% in each of the last five quarters. In December, the company had more than 286,000 digital-only subscribers, up from 100,000 a year ago.

Mowbray said the company’s strategy does not focus on consumers shifting away from print to digital.

“Instead, we are broadening our overall base to welcome new digital-only subscribers into the fold,” Mowbray said. “And only 5% of our new digital subscribers were formally full-access (print) subscribers. Meaning that our growth in total audience is what’s happening and not a cannibalization of our legacy print business.”

He said the “digital-first” strategy to grow and convert newspaper website and mobile visitors to digital subscribers will put the company “on a path of sustainable revenue growth.”

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