Gannett Reports Dip In Digital, But Strong 1Q
Due largely to its struggling CareerBuilder unit, Gannett saw digital revenue decline 1.8% during the first quarter, the company reported Friday.
Digital operating revenues were $140.6 million in the quarter -- down from $143.2 million in the same period last year, "reflecting continued pressure on employment advertising demand that negatively impacted CareerBuilder's results," the company said.
While revenues were lower at CareerBuilder, the decline improved by 10.9 percentage points relative to the fourth quarter of 2009. The CareerBuilder revenue decline was offset in part by a double-digit increase in revenues at PointRoll.
During the quarter, digital operating expenses declined 4.9% and totaled $137.3 million, while operating income improved at nearly all digital segment businesses, Gannett said.
What's more, operating expenses for the digital segment also included costs accrued for an employee incentive compensation plan tied to the performance of certain digital businesses. Absent the incentive plan compensation charge, Gannett said digital expenses would have been down more than 6% from the first quarter of 2009, while digital operating income would have been more than 70% higher than reported for the first quarter.
Company-wide digital revenues, which include the digital segment and all digital revenues generated by the other business segments, totaled $225.7 million for the quarter -- 17.1% of total operating revenues.
Overall, Gannett reported a 51% jump in first-quarter profit thanks to a gradually improving ad market coupled with relentless cost-cutting.
"We achieved very strong results for the quarter," said Craig Dubow, Gannett's chairman and chief executive. "The momentum we had at the end of last year continued through the first quarter."
The company's digital segment includes results for CareerBuilder, PointRoll, ShopLocal, Planet Discover, Schedule Star and Ripple6.
At the end of the quarter, Gannett claimed more than 100 domestic publishing Web sites, including USAToday.com, as well as Web sites in all of its 19 television markets. In March, Gannett's consolidated domestic Internet audience share was 41.3 million unique visitors, reaching 19.4% of the nation's Internet audience, per comScore.
Adapting to an increasingly wireless world, Gannett and 10 other media companies just announced a joint mobile initiative dubbed Pearl Mobile DTV Company LLC.
"Earlier this week, we were pleased to join 11 other major media companies in announcing plans to form a stand-alone joint venture to develop a new national mobile content and distribution service to make mobile digital television universally available to consumers," Dubow said Friday.
Expected to encompass up to 50 channels, other partners include Post-Newsweek, NBC, Fox, Ion Media, Belo, Cox Media Group, Scripps, Hearst Television, Media General, Meredith and Raycom Media. TV content will include broadcast and cable network programming from NBC's cable networks, such as USA Network, Syfy, MSNBC, Oxygen, Bravo, and CNBC, as well as Fox's Fox News Channel and FX.