The Capital Times Co., for the first time in decades and perhaps ever, is not rewarding its stockholders with a dividend in the current quarter.
"We regret to report that there will not be a quarterly dividend paid this summer," states a letter to stockholders dated June 10 and signed by board chair John Lussier and president/publisher Clayton Frink. "We remain hopeful that we will be able to schedule a dividend in either September or October."
As Isthmus has reported ("Cap Times Empire Toughs It Out," 3/6/09), the Capital Times Co. in 2008 paid out a lower amount in dividends than the year before, breaking a rise in profitability that dates back at least to 1996. Even so, the company paid out $55.25 on each of its 120,000 shares, for a total of $6,630,000.
While that's less than the $61.25 per share in 2007 ($7,350,000), it's nothing to sneeze at. It suggests Capital Newspapers Inc., of which The Capital Times is half-owner and half-beneficiary, managed to make at least $13.2 million in profit in 2008, one of the worst years in the history of the print business.
The suspended dividend means this year's total distributions will likely be lower. According to Lussier and Frink, "total revenues are down 22.6% so far this year," including a 41.6% decline in classified ads. In response, Cap News has put the screws to its workers.
"Our workforce has been reduced, benefits have been trimmed or eliminated, workers have been furloughed temporarily, and executive compensation has been cut sharply," the letter says. "We are focused on understanding the changes in our business and ensuring that the franchise is strong enough to weather the storm...."