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Gannett Q4 profits sink over 32% on lower advertising revenues

Gannett Q4 profits sink over 32% on lower advertising revenues

Gannett (NYSE:GCI) reported Monday that fourth quarter profits fell nearly 33 percent as revenues from advertising declined.

For the three months that ended December 25, the media giant posted earnings of $116.94 million, or $0.49 per share, down 32.8 percent from $174.14 million, or $0.72 per share, a year ago.

Adjusted for certain one-time items, including restructuring-related charges and write-downs, earnings were $0.72 per share.

Total revenues also fell 5.1 percent to $1.39 billion, from $1.46 billion in the same period last year.

According to Thomson Reuters, analysts had estimated $0.68 per share in earnings, on revenues of $1.4 billion.

"During a period of weak economic growth, Gannett once again differentiated itself within the media industry by delivering solid profitability across each of our market-leading business segments – publishing, broadcast and digital – as well as free cash flow of $775 million in 2011," said president and CEO, Gracia Martore.

"In the fourth quarter, we continued to leverage our local media franchises and iconic national brands across multiple platforms, reinventing local journalism for the digital age and providing innovative marketing solutions for our advertisers."

Still, revenues from the company's publishing segment fell 5.3 percent to $1.01 billion during the quarter, reflecting soft demand for advertising in the U.S. and U.K.

Digital publishing revenues, however, were up 6.9 percent.

Total national advertising revenues fell 9.1 percent, as soft advertising demand at USA Today was partially offset by higher national revenues at the company's U.K. operation, Newsquest.

At USA Today, declines in the travel, entertainment, and technology categories were offset by higher telecommunications, credit cards, and automobile advertising revenues.

Total classified ad revenues for the company fell 8.4 percent, largely on weak legal and real estate classified ads.

Under Gannett's broadcasting business, revenues fell 14.2 percent to $199.8 million, due mainly to weak political advertising. Television revenues were down 12.6 percent, while retransmission revenues increased 30.3 percent and television station digital revenues rose 19.3 percent. Gannett said it expects this trend to continue into the first quarter of 2011.

Revenues from the company's digital segment, which includes about 120 domestic web sites, rose 9.4 percent to $181.5 million, mainly on strong growth at its CareerBuilder site.

For the month of December, Gannett's consolidated internet audience share was 23 percent, or about 50.8 million unique visitors. In the U.K., Newsquest attracted 66.3 million unique monthly views.

During the fourth quarter, the company repurchased 2.3 million shares of its common stock, for a total of $25 million.

For the full year, Gannett posted earnings of $458.75 million, or $1.89 per share, down 22 percent. Revenues fell 3.7 percent to $5.24 billion.

In New York, shares of the McLean, Virginia-based company fell 8.08 percent to $13.99 per share. In 2011, the company's stock shed 11.4 percent.

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April 16 2012

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