Bloomberg News

Gannett Shares Tumble as Newspaper Advertising Declines

October 17, 2011

(Updates with closing share price in second paragraph)

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Gannett Co., the owner of 82 newspapers and 23 television stations, dropped the most in two months after reporting third-quarter profit had fallen as circulation and print-advertising revenue declined.

The company, based in McLean, Virginia, fell 8.7 percent to $9.99 at 4:15 p.m. in New York, for the shares’ biggest daily decline since Aug. 10. They have lost 34 percent this year.

“We face challenges across many of our advertising categories,” Gannett Chief Executive Officer Gracia Martore said on a conference call.

Net income fell 1.6 percent to $99.8 million, or 41 cents a share, from $101.4 million, or 42 cents, a year earlier, the company said in a statement today. Excluding some items, earnings declined to 44 cents a share, matching the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Gannett, whose publications include USA Today, is the first newspaper publisher to report its results for the quarter, making it an early indicator of how the industry is faring. The newspaper industry has struggled over the past few years, as consumers of print news have transitioned to new digital platforms and advertising has been hurt by the weak economy.

Publishing revenue at Gannett, including advertising and circulation, declined 5.3 percent to $917.8 million during the quarter. Digital revenue rose 10 percent.

Gannett reported a 17 percent drop in national advertising at its U.S. publishing business, with declines in entertainment, automotive and financial categories.

“That’s not very encouraging,” Ed Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in New York, said in an interview. Overall, the company’s results were “a little worse than I thought.”

New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper as well as the Boston Globe, warned last month that a worsening global economy has led to weakened advertising sales. The New York-based company will report third-quarter results Oct. 20.

Total revenue at Gannett fell 3.5 percent to $1.27 billion, meeting the average analyst estimate.

--Editors: Donna Alvarado, John Lear

To contact the reporter on this story: Brett Pulley in New York at bpulley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom in New York at pelstrom@bloomberg.net.


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