Updated February 28 at 8:42pm

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ProJo parent shrinks loss

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DALLAS – A.H. Belo Corp., the parent company of The Providence Journal and three other daily newspapers, said its net loss shrunk to $10.93 million in 2011 from a loss of $124.2 million a year earlier.

Revenue decreased to $461.5 million from $487.3 million year-over-year. Loss per diluted share totaled 51 cents in 2011, a decline from the $5.92 loss per diluted share in 2010.

“We finished the year with improved year-to-year comparables, particularly in Dallas and Riverside. Due to better advertising trends and ongoing expense containment, adjusted EBITDA in the fourth quarter and full year 2011 exceed our expectations,” said Robert W. Decherd, chairman, president and CEO.

Advertising revenue for the full year declined 8.9 percent, with the smallest percentage decrease at The Dallas Morning News, followed by The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise.

A.H. Belo noted it benefited from The Providence Journal’s transition from a carrier to a distributor circulation model at the end of 2011, which resulted in $1.1 million in increased circulation revenue. Total circulation revenue for the company dropped 1.6 percent to $138.8 million excluding the $1.1 million bump.

Printing and distribution revenue was $39 million in 2011, an 8.6 percent increase from the prior year – which A.H. Belo attributed “primarily to several new commercial printing contracts in Providence.”

Decherd also said that the company plans to invest about $3 million in a new operating initiative at The Dallas Morning News in 2010 aimed at small to medium-sized businesses, and $4 million on a marketing campaign supporting that initiative and other consumer revenue programs.

In the fourth quarter, A.H. Belo saw revenue drop to $124.8 million from $130.8 million in the same quarter of 2010. The company reported a profit of $2.75 million, or 12 cents per diluted share, compared with a loss of $119.5 million, or $5.65 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The company recorded a $65 million charge due to “a further decline” in the aggregate discount rate of the defined benefit pension plans. The rate declined 4.19 percent on Dec. 31, 2011 – a 114 basis point decrease from 2010. The board of directors will consider next month a voluntary $10 million contribution to the pension plan contribution in 2012, it said.

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