Gannett Earnings Slide

The advertising slowdown took its toll on another newspaper publisher, with Gannett Co. reporting a slump in first-quarter earnings.

Gannett (GCI), the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, said Tuesday net income came to $174.5 million, or 66 cents a diluted share, compared with $950.2 million, or $3.44 a share, a year earlier. Revenue increased 19% to $1.57 billion.

The mean estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call was for earnings of 67 cents a share.

The year-earlier results reflect a gain on the sale of Multimedia Cablevision Inc., which was sold in January 2000. Excluding items, the company said it had earnings from operations of $203 million in the 2000 quarter.

The news-and-information company said its domestic newspaper-advertising revenue, mainly in the help-wanted classified category, and its television-business revenue were hurt by falling advertising spending.

The newspaper segment was also hurt by significantly lower dot-com advertising spending, especially at USA Today, and substantially higher newsprint expenses.

Gannett also said revenue from its UNited Kingdom operations was hurt by the decline in the exchange rate for sterling in the first quarter.

Gannett is not alone in its troubles.

On Monday, New York Times Co. (NYT), the owner of The New York Times and The Boston Globe, said first-quarter earnings fell 26% to $61.3 million. Last week, Dow Jones & Co. (DJ), publisher of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, reported a steep drop in first-quarter earnings to $6.2 million from $88.7 million the year earlier.

The New York Times, Dow Jones and Knight Ridder Inc. (KRI), publisher of the San Jose Mercury News and the Miami Herald, have all implemented or announced layoffs. All have blamed the soft advertising market in the wake of the economic slowdown for the weaker results and layoffs.

Copyright (c) 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.