(By Balaseshan) Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI), the largest newspaper chain in the United States, reported a 11.8% decline in fourth quarter earnings due to higher tax provision. However, results exceeded Street's expectations.
Earnings for the fourth quarter were $103.09 million or $0.44 per share, down from $116.94 million or $0.49 per share last year. Adjusted earnings per share rose to $0.89 from $0.72.
Operating revenue increased 9.4% to $1.52 billion, on a substantial increase in Broadcasting segment revenue, higher Publishing segment revenue as well as the extra week.
Analysts, on average, polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a profit of $0.88 per share on revenue of $1.49 billion for the fourth quarter.
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Publishing revenue rose 3.7% to $1.04 billion, reflecting the extra week and an increase in circulation revenues. Retail advertising was down 1.3% in quarter as tepid economic recovery continues to impact advertising demand.
Broadcasting revenue jumped 43.9% to $287.51 million, driven by political spending. Digital revenue rose 3.2% to $187.25 million, due primarily to revenue growth at CareerBuilder.
In December, Gannett's consolidated domestic Internet audience share increased 7.6% from last year to 54.6 million unique visitors reaching 24.7% of the Internet audience, according to Comscore Media Metrix. CareerBuilder's unique visitors in the fourth quarter averaged 21.0 million.
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Looking ahead into the first quarter, expects the percentage increase in television advertising revenues to be up in the high-single digits based on current trends. Excluding political variances year-to-year, the percentage increase in total television revenues is projected to be up in the 10% to 12% range in the first quarter.
GCI closed Friday's regular trading at $19.84. The stock has been trading between $12.17 and $20.61 for the past 52 weeks.