Layoffs, other belt-tightening moves and falling newsprint costs helped Gannett earn $73.8 million, or 31 cents per share, in the third quarter, the publishing giant announced this morning in a press release. That was down from $158.1 million, or 69 cents per share, in 2008's third quarter.
Excluding unusual items, Gannett said it would have earned 44 cents per share. On that basis, analysts expected 41 cents, according to the press release posted on Thomson Reuters. On Sept. 29, Gannett guided analysts to expect 39 cents to 42 cents per share.
"We finished the quarter on a stronger note with better than anticipated results due primarily to better trends in advertising and greater efficiencies across all of our business segments. Our results for the quarter exceeded the high end of previously announced estimate ranges for revenue, operating cash flow, and earnings per share. Although recessions in the U.S. and UK continued to temper ad demand and revenue growth during the quarter, we are encouraged by the revenue trends. Third quarter year-over-year comparisons of publishing advertising revenue were a few percentage points better than year-over-year comparisons for the second quarter and September was our best comparison month of the year. We`ve seen improvements in our Broadcasting segment as well. Excluding Olympic and political ad spending, core revenue comparisons were better in the third quarter than the second quarter. Operating profits in our digital segment, on a pro forma basis, were substantially higher this quarter relative to the third quarter last year," said Craig Dubow, Gannett chairman, president and chief executive officer.