18 April 2010

Gannett's Posts 51% Profit Leap

USA Today

NEW YORK (AP) — Gannett, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher and publisher of USA TODAY, said Friday its first-quarter profit jumped 51%.

Cost cutting and a less severe drop in advertising revenue boosted the results.

Gannett (GCI) earned $117.2 million, or 49 cents a share, compared with $77.4 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier.

Taking out a $2.2 million tax charge related to the recent U.S. health care overhaul, the company said it would have earned 50 cents a share. Analysts, who typically exclude such one-time items, expected 41 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Gannett, which is based in McLean, Via., publishes more than 80 daily newspapers. It is the first major publisher to report earnings for the January-March period and could offer a preview of what will come next week from McClatchy, Lee Enterprises and The New York Times Co.

As expected, Gannett reported its smallest ad revenue decline in more than a year, although the comparison is being made against a period in 2009 when advertising spending was plunging in the recession.

Gannett's overall revenue fell 4% from the same period of 2009 to $1.3 billion, matching forecasts. Ad revenue in its publishing division — which accounts for most of the company's income — fell 8%. That was a significant improvement from the decline of 18% that Gannett had in the last quarter of 2009 from the same period a year earlier.

The continued decline in newspaper ads was offset by a 15% rise in TV broadcasting revenue from the prior year. Gannett benefited from advertising tied to the Winter Olympics.

Its stock hit a a 52-week high.

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