Gannett Q3 earnings drop 11% on ad revenue

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McLEAN, Va. -- Gannett Co., the largest newspaper publisher in the country and owner of USA Today, said Wednesday that third-quarter earnings fell 11%, as revenue slipped from a year-ago period boosted by heavy political advertising.

Net income dropped to $234 million, or $1.01 per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30 from $261.4 million, or $1.11 per share, in the year-ago period. The latest quarter included a charge of $14.5 million for restructuring costs.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected profit of $1 per share. The estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Revenue fell 4% to $1.81 billion from $1.88 billion last year. Wall Street expected revenue of $1.82 billion.

Newspaper advertising revenue fell 6% to $1.19 billion. The revenue figures suffered not only from the loss of political advertising compared to 2006, but also from the divestiture of five of Gannett's 90 daily newspapers, including the sale of four dailies in May to New York-based GateHouse Media Inc.

Revenue from classified ads was down 7.7% compared to the year-ago period. Newspapers across the country have seen revenue dwindle from classified ads due in part to competition from Web sites offering free classified ads.

Broadcasting revenue fell 3.4% to $189.5 million.

Through the first nine months of the year, Gannett has earned $810 million, or $3.46 per share. That's up 0.4% from the same time frame in 2006, when earnings were $807 million, or $3.40 per share.

Revenue for the year so far is down 2.6%, to $5.58 billion. A 4.3% drop in newspaper advertising accounts for most of the loss.

Gannett shares rose 20 cents to $43.70 in morning trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.


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