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Gannett Falls as Quarterly Profit Slumps 33%: Washington Mover

Gannett Falls as Quarterly Profit Slumps 33%
Copies of the Gannett Co. newspaper USA Today sit on display at a newsstand in New York. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Gannett Co., the owner of 82 newspapers including USA Today, declined the most in more than three months after reporting a fourth straight drop in quarterly profit amid declining advertising sales.

The stock fell 6.9 percent to $14.17 at the close, making it the worst performer on the S&P 500 Index, after the McLean, Virginia-based Gannett posted a 33 percent decrease in fourth-quarter net income.

Revenue from the publishing division, the largest unit, declined 5.3 percent as advertising and circulation fell. The newspaper industry overall has continued to lose ad business to Internet companies such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

“You’re going to see lower newspaper advertising right across the sector,” said Edward Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in New York who recommends buying the shares and doesn’t personally own any.

Former Chief Operating Officer Gracia Martore took over as chief executive in October after Craig Dubow resigned for medical reasons.

Net income fell to $116.9 million, or 49 cents a share, last quarter, from $174.1 million, or 72 cents, a year earlier, the company said today in a statement. That included expenses of $63.6 million to consolidate printer facilities and costs of $14.7 million related to Dubow’s disability retirement.

Profit excluding those items and others was 72 cents, beating the average of 68 cents of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales at the company, also owner of 23 broadcast stations reaching 21 million households, decreased 5.1 percent to $1.39 billion, compared with the average estimate of $1.4 billion.

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