Gannett 1Q Profit Slouches on Weak Print Ads

Gannett (NYSE:GCI) said on Monday that its profit slumped 23% in the first-quarter, as advertising revenue in its publishing segment weighed on improved digital sales led by CareerBuilder.

The publishing and broadcasting company, operating sites such as USA Today, posted net income of $90.5 million, or 37 cents a share, compared with $117.2 million, or 49 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding one-time items, Gannett earned 41 cents a share, matching average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters.

Revenue for the McLean, Va.-based company was $1.3 billion, up slightly from $1.32 billion a year ago, narrowly ahead of the Street’s view of $1.26 billion.

While digital sales grew about 12% during the period, its publishing segment fell by roughly $60 million on softer ad demand. The company booked advertising revenue in the publishing segment of $601.7 million during the period, down 7.3% from the year-earlier period.

“During the quarter, we continued to focus on enhancing content distribution on every platform and sales across platforms,” Gannett CEO Craig Dubow said in a statement. “However, softness persists in certain sectors, particularly the real estate market here, and more broadly in the U.K.”

Gannett’s broadcasting unit slipped by about $3.6 million during the quarter, though the same period in 2010 benefited from the Olympics. Digital sales were helped by higher employment advertising demand at CareerBuilder and modest expenses.