McClatchy reports 20.7% drop in advertising for the 4th quarter

The McClatchy Company reported a 20.7% drop in advertising for the 4th quarter of 2008, although a rise in online advertising.

Advertising revenues were $388.3 million, down 20.7% from the same quarter in 2007, showing a slight reduction in decline vs November alone (22.4%). The only good news for McClatchy was 10.3% growth in online advertising for the quarter, with online now accounting for 10.9% of total advertising revenues vs 7.8% for the same quarter last year.

Total revenue in the fourth quarter was $470.9 million, down 17.9%.

The company highlighted the online result in their release

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Still, 2008 was a good year for our online business; online audiences and revenues rose sharply. In the fourth quarter, average monthly unique visitors to our websites were up 25.3% and were up 33.5% for all of 2008. Online advertising revenues grew 10.3% in the fourth quarter of 2008 and were up 47.3% excluding employment advertising, a category that has been impacted both online and in print by the nationwide decline in jobs.

The market reacted somewhat positively to the news, pushing McClatchy stock (NYSE:MNI) up 7.58% for the day.

While McClatchy’s web growth strategy off the back of driving traffic is a solid one, I’d be surprised if they continued to report growth in their online figures given the rapid decline in overall online advertising spending. We’ll see come next earnings report.