Gannett's third-quarter net profit sank 53% on Monday -- but investors saw positive signs that the company was improving, and pushed its stock up over 7% in midday trading.
Analysts were expecting 38 cents a share; excluding asset impairments, Gannett earned 44 cents a share. Overall, the company took in $73.8 million in earnings, or 31 cents a share. Revenue sank 18% to $1.34 billion.
Gannett pursued big cost cuts, especially in September. Excluding special items and expenses, this came to 20%.
At its TV stations, revenue sank $46 million, or 23%, to $151.5 million. This came in the absence of big political and Olympics revenues of a year ago.
TV stations' revenues included retransmission fees paid from satellite and cable companies. During the period, Gannett witnessed tripling of its retransmission revenues, at some $14.3 million. In the second quarter of this year, Gannett's ad revenue was down 26% versus second-quarter 2008.
Positive investor news for Gannett may have been bolstered by some media analysts' overall expectations. UBS entertainment/media analyst Michael Morris said in a report released on Monday: "Our positive outlook for media is based primarily on our expectation for improving ad trends. We expect 3Q09 ad results to show an improvement in trends from 2Q 2009."
Newspaper advertising revenue continued to fall at Gannett -- 28% in the third quarter. The biggest piece of newspaper revenues' business -- classified advertising -- sank further, down 37% from the same period a year ago. Major categories continued to slide: automotive, off 35%; and real estate, down 37%.
Last week, as expected, The Wall Street Journal passed USA Today in daily circulation to become the largest newspaper in the country, according to forthcoming figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
In mid-day trading, Gannett's stock hit nearly $14 a share, up over 7%.