Exec: Providence Journal could be sold by April or May

A.H. Belo is moving ahead with its plan to try and sell The Providence Journal.

“We’ve been working very diligently,” Alison Engel, A.H. Belo’s chief financial officer, told investors last week when asked about where things stand with The Journal. “We really didn’t get started on the process until after year-end for a variety of reasons, including just the holidays and having to complete the 2013 close, etc.”

A.H. Belo, which has owned The Journal since 1997, put the paper up for sale in December as part of an effort to refocus the company on its flagship newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, and its market.

Engel said A.H. Belo executives have “made a lot of progress” in working with Stephens Inc., the investment bank that’s shopping The Journal, to put together a presentation about The Journal’s finances that will be given to potential investors. She said those who’ve expressed interest in buying the paper would likely receive the detailed information by the end of this week.

“That’s a process that will start … and we would expect it to wrap up, I would assume, sometime in April or May,” she said. The company has said it will only sell The Journal if the price is right.

Engel also reiterated that The Providence Journal is still a profitable business. “Providence is more profitable than Riverside was, less profitable than The Dallas Morning News,” she said, referring to the Riverside Press-Enteprise, which A.H. Belo sold last year. “But yes, they are profitable.”

A.H. Belo posted a profit of $16.1 million in 2013, up from $526,000 in 2012. The company’s profit from continuing operations, which excludes The Press-Enterprise, fell from $8.4 million to $7.2 million. Total revenue from A.H. Belo’s continuing operations fell 2% to $366 million.

The Journal’s digital revenue declined but its circulation revenue rose thanks to an increase in home-delivery rates, as did its revenue from distributing other newspapers, A.H. Belo said. The company said it’s also continuing its separate effort to sell The Journal’s headquarters on Fountain Street.

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

• Related: A.H. Belo puts The Providence Journal up for sale (Dec. 4)

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