The news last week that the Star-Telegram laid off more than a dozen of its news staff may be a precursor of things to come. A.H. Belo Corp. CEO Robert Decherd said yesterday that the company’s first-quarter financial results will be below expectations and the company is "looking at every sensible expense reduction." Belo, of course, is the parent of Dallas’ Only Daily Newspaper.

I wrote about this in February, and the news is even worse today than it was then. Belo owns four papers, including the Riverside Press-Enterprise in southern California. That paper was supposed to be bleeding cash, given the California housing crash.

But what few of us expected was news this bad from The News: Advertising levels are running behind 2007, and 2007 was not a good year. Belo will announce first-quarter results Monday, and any bad news should come around the time of that announcement.

Wall Street is concerned, too. Belo stock closed at $10.97 yesterday, 32.9 percent below its 52-week high.

(Full disclosure: I’m the wine columnist for the Star-Telegram, but I’m a free-lancer and not an employee.)

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