Gannett (GCI) recorded a bigger-than-expected 33% jump in third-quarter profit on Monday, as a growth strategy announced in February started to pay off and the company recorded its first increase in company-wide circulation revenues in five years.

Stronger digital sales also contributed, led by Gannett's newly revamped USA Today brand and continued improvements within CareerBuilder.com.

The McLean, Va.-based media and marketing company posted net income of $133.1 million, or 56 cents, compared with a year-earlier profit of $99.8 million, or 41 cents, topping average analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters poll by three cents.

Revenue for the three months ended Sept. 23 was $1.31 billion, up 3.4% from $1.26 billion a year ago, narrowly missing the Street’s view of $1.29 billion.

"Our results this quarter demonstrate that the growth strategy we announced in February is gaining traction,” Gannett CEO Gracia Martore said in a statement. “We are seeing early successes and making great progress in positioning Gannett for growth in the digital era."

Fueling the quarter’s revenue growth was record results in its broadcasting segment with the help of Olympics and political spending and its new all-access content subscription model that led to significant growth in company-wide circulation revenue, the first increase since 2007.

Digital revenues company-wide increased by 22.8% to $334.6 million and grew as a portion of total revenue. Now representing 25% of total sales, the gains were led by improvements as CareerBuilder.com.

Gannett re-launched the USA Today brand under a new digital image last quarter and said its domestic Internet audience share rose by 12% year-over-year to 57.6 million unique visitors. 

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