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Gannett Co. (GCI) said Thursday it expects its first-quarter publishing revenue to decline 6% to 7% from year-ago levels, continuing a worrisome trend at the company's newspaper division as the industry struggles amid the rise of digital media.
At an investor conference at the company's offices in New York City, Gannett Chief Operating Officer Gracia Martore said the company's overall first-quarter revenue is expected to decline by about 4% -- in line with expectations on Wall Street. She also said the company expects to post earnings in line with Wall Street's consensus earnings estimate of 41 cents a share.
Gannett, like many newspaper publishers, has suffered persistent declines in print advertising and circulation at its publishing division, despite a broader rebound in the advertising market, in a sign that marketers are diverting their spending to other outlets as consumers migrate online for news.
Shares of Gannett closed down 2.9% to $14.93.
At the conference, Gannett Chief Executive Craig Dubow acknowledged that newspapers are suffering "secular" declines, but he said he wouldn't characterize the trend as "irreversible," stressing the value of the company's content generated by original, professional reporting -- particularly in local markets.
Martore said Gannett's publishing division is headed for a quarterly decline in ad revenue of 7% to 8%. She said the drop-off was partly driven by economic weakness in the U.K., where cutbacks in government spending have taken a toll.
Martore also said its broadcast TV division is expected to report a revenue decline of more than 2% for the quarter. However, excluding $24 million worth of revenue that came last year from political advertising, the Super Bowl and the Olympics, the division will see its revenue rise 6% to 7%.
At the end of February, Martore said Gannett's companywide digital revenue was up 12%.
--By Nat Worden, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2472; email@example.com