Mclean (Virginia): Gannett Co. reported a 12% decline in its fourth-quarter net income Monday, largely because of restructuring expenses and a tax benefit that boosted the previous year’s results.
But revenue increased 9% thanks to robust political advertising, increasing digital subscriptions and an extra week in the quarter.
The media company, which owns USA Today, said it earned $103.1 million, or 44 cents per share, in the October-December period. That was down from $116.9 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.
Revenue grew to $1.52 billion from $1.39 billion. Adjusted earnings were $207.3 million, or 89 cents per share, in the latest quarter.
The figures exclude one-time charges related to the elimination of jobs, a consolidation of facilities and other items. A year ago, Gannett’s adjusted earnings were 72 cents per share.
Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 88 cents per share on revenue of $1.5 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.
Gannett, based in McLean, Virginia, also owns 81 other newspapers, 23 television stations and several digital businesses. Company-wide digital revenue increased 29% and accounted for a quarter of all revenue, Gannett said.
Gannett began charging newspaper readers for online access last year, erecting so-called paywalls at most of its newspapers. At the same time, the company raised prices of single-copy newspapers and print subscriptions.
Gannett also bundled digital access with print subscriptions, hoping to entice new subscribers who might offset revenue lost from people who cancelled because of price hikes. The company said the “all access” subscription model helped increase circulation revenue in its newspaper publishing division.
Gannett said the division had revenue of $1.04 billion, up 4% from $1 billion last year. Circulation revenue grew 17% to $313 .1 million from $268.1 million.
Advertising revenue fell 2% to $657.5 million from $670.7 million. Broadcasting revenue soared 44% to $287.5 million from $199.8 million, helped by political advertising.
Gannett warned that its TV advertising revenue will be hurt this quarter by the absence of political ads and the Super Bowl’s move from NBC to CBS. Gannett’s stock fell $1.10, or 5.5%, to $18.74 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $12.17 and $20.61.