Gannett Co. tops 4Q net income expectations, helped by digital and broadcast gains

Markets Associated Press

Gannett Co. reported Tuesday that its fourth-quarter revenue jumped on gains in its broadcast and digital businesses, offsetting weakness in its print operations.

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The improved results prompted the media company to resume a stock buyback program earlier than it had planned.

Gannett earned $676 million, or $2.92 per share, for the period. It earned $1.02 per share on an adjusted basis, beating analyst estimates of $1 per share, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

The company, which owns USA Today and other newspapers and TV stations, said the gains were driven by an expanded portfolio of television stations and its Cars.com acquisition, which it completed last year.

Gannett's total revenue jumped 24 percent to $1.7 billion, which fell short of Street forecasts. Analysts expected $1.73 billion, according to Zacks.

Company CEO and President Gracia Martore said the results reflect a "bold strategy and continued focus on reshaping and reinventing the company."

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Gannett, like many media companies, has had to adapt to a cultural shift toward online and digital news and away from newspapers and other printed matter. It announced plans last year to divide its business, separating the publishing side from its broadcast and digital operations, which it has been beefing up. It said Tuesday that the division plans remain on track and it expects to share more details in coming months.

Martore said that the strong quarter has prompted the company to resume share buybacks, which it suspended in August. It has $150 million remaining in authorization to repurchase shares.

For the year, the company reported profit of $1.06 billion, or $4.58 per share. Revenue was reported as $6.01 billion.

Gannett shares jumped 5 percent to $33.10 by early afternoon.

The company's stock price has slipped just more than 1 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has dropped roughly 2 percent. The stock has climbed 14 percent in the last 12 months.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on GCI at http://www.zacks.com/ap/GCI

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Keywords: Gannett Co., Earnings Report