(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.
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.
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.