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Gannett Profit Slides on Advertising, Circulation Declines

Gannett Co., the owner of 82 newspapers and 23 television stations, reported third-quarter profit that decreased 1.6 percent as circulation and print-advertising revenue declined.

Net income fell to $99.8 million, or 41 cents a share, from $101.4 million, or 42 cents, a year earlier, the McLean, Virginia-based company said in a statement today. Excluding some items, earnings declined to 44 cents a share, matching the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Gannett, whose publications include USA Today, is the first newspaper publisher to report its results for the quarter, making it an indicator of how the industry is faring. Publishing revenue, including advertising and circulation, declined 5.3 percent to $917.8 million. Digital revenue rose 10 percent.

Gannett reported a 17 percent drop in national advertising at its U.S. publishing business, with declines in entertainment, automotive and financial categories.

“That’s not very encouraging,” Ed Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in New York, said in an interview. Overall, the company’s results were “a little worse than I thought.”

New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper as well as The Boston Globe, warned last month that a worsening global economy has led to weakened advertising sales. The New York-based company will report third-quarter results Oct. 20.

Total revenue at Gannett fell 3.5 percent to $1.27 billion, meeting the average analyst estimate.

Gannett declined 3.1 percent to $10.60 at 9:48 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange trading. The shares had lost 28 percent this year before today.

(Gannett is holding a conference call today at 10 a.m. New York time. To listen, go to http://www.gannett.com.)

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