Newspaper industry ad revenue in the fourth quarter of last year is expected to show an increase of less than one percent, making it the slowest growth quarter of the year, according to a report
issued Tuesday by Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine. For the year, the industry is expected to show 2.5 percent growth, she reported. Fine also said she anticipated a "large" decline in earnings
per share for newspaper companies, following a 10 percent EPS drop in third quarter 2005. "Only two companies are expected to report gains, Knight Ridder (helped by Detroit/asset swap transaction) and
Lee Enterprises," Fine wrote. "We estimate that Journal Communications and Washington Post (the latter hurt by hurricane-related charges) will report the largest declines."