March 1, 2024

Media Decoder: Gannett Earnings Fall

Earnings at Gannett, publisher of USA Today and dozens of local newspapers across the country, fell in the first quarter as the print advertising market remained stubbornly soft.

The company said Monday that net income dropped by 23 percent, to $90.5 million, from January through March, compared with $117.2 million in the same period a year earlier. On a per share diluted basis, earnings were 37 cents, compared with 49 cents last year.

Some one-time charges — $7.7 million for facility consolidations and $6 million for expenses related to work force downsizing — were a factor.

Revenue at Gannett’s publishing unit, which includes its 82 daily newspapers in the United States, dropped 6.2 percent, to $929.8 million. Advertising revenue in the publishing unit fell 7.3 percent, to $601.7 million, as real estate and legal advertising fell by double digits. The brights spots domestically were in automotive ads, up 6.1 percent, and employment ads, up 7.3 percent.

“Our publishing segment results for the quarter reflect the current state of the domestic economy,” said Craig Dubow, chief executive. “However, softness persists in certain sectors, particularly in the real estate market here.”

The weakness in advertising was not confined to Gannett’s newspaper division. Its broadcast unit also experienced a decline, in part because of a strong first quarter in 2010 that was buoyed by the winter Olympics, political advertising and the Super Bowl, which was moved this year to Fox from CBS. Most Gannett stations are ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates.

Television revenue declined $3 million over all, to $158.3 million, reflecting the absence of $18.6 million in Olympics ads, $3.3 million in political ads and $2.2 million in Super Bowl spending.

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