Des Moines-based Meredith Corporation is buying four magazine titles for 350-million dollars. Meredith is acquiring Family Circle as well as three others — Fitness, Parents, and Child. William T. Kerr, Meredith’s C-E-O, says the four magazines have “underperformed in recent years” but have potential to expand their circulation.

“These are well-known magazines with proud traditions and with significant upside potential and they’ve experiences some weakness recently largely caused by poor circulation practices,” Kerr says. “We believe we have exactly the right skills to restore their luster.” Kerr says one of Meredith’s growth strategies has been to broaden the company’s magazine portfolio to reach younger woman and the Hispanic market. “The acquisition clearly solidifies our position as the leading publishing company serving women whose primary interests are their homes, their families and their personal development,” Kerr says. Meredith’s flagship magazine is Better Homes and Gardens. It also publishes Ladies Home Journal.

“We are now in a position to offer our advertising clients the opportunity to reach even more woman at different stages of their lives,” Kerr says. The acquisition of the four magazines broadens Meredith’s reach, according to Kerr.

Meredith magazines will be read by 135 million adult American woman once the transaction is complete at the end of June, if regulators approve. No other U.S. publisher reaches more women and with the purchase of the four magazines, Meredith will become the nation’s second-largest magazine publisher. Kerr says the buy-out also positions Meredith well with younger women. Meredith bought American Baby in December, 2002, and with the acquisition of Fitness, Parents and Child, Kerr says Meredith is gaining 30 million female readers with a median age below the age of 35. He says that demographic is the leading purchaser of consumer products and services, which makes the ad space in those magazines valuable. Meredith may also acquire two other business magazines as part of the deal announced today (Tuesday), but the company plans to immediately sell Inc. and Fast Company.