Gannett Co., the publisher of USA TODAY, announced its third quarter results this morning and, as promised, they beat analysts’ projections.
However, the company did post a 18.4 percent decrease in net operating revenues compared to the same period last year, and earnings per share were down 55.1 percent. Operating expenses also decreased, revealing a more efficient business. (Did all those layoffs over the summer help contribute to that?)
Gannet CEO Craig Dubow, who just came back to work last week after back surgery, emphasized the positives:
“We finished the quarter on a stronger note with better than anticipated results due primarily to better trends in advertising and great efficiencies across all of our business segments. Our results for the quarter exceeded the high end of previously announced estimated ranges for revenue, operating cash flow, and earnings per share…Third quarter year-over-year comparisons of publishing advertising revenue were a few percentage points better than year-over-year comparisons for the second quarter and September was our best comparison month of the year.”
Gannett’s publishing division, which includes USA TODAY and more than 80 other daily papers, earned $1 billion during the third quarter, a 23.5 percent decrease from 2008’s third quarter. Ad revenues totaled $699.6 million, down 28.4 percent from last year, with Gannett’s advertising revenues in the U.S. seeing a drop of 26 percent.
USA TODAY was also affected by the dropping ad sales and a slowdown in the travel industry, which the paper relies on for business. The newspaper saw ad pages drop to 493 during the quarter, compared to 713 last year.
Circulation for the paper has also declined, meaning USA TODAY is in danger of losing its title of number one newspaper in the U.S.
Read the whole earnings release here.