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Company surpasses expectations

Gannettoid.com | news@gannettoid.com | Posted: July 15, 2009 • Afternoon update

Gannett announced a decrease in revenue, but a raise in profit during a Wednesday conference call to share its second-quarter earnings report.

The publisher of USA Today and 83 other daily newspapers has been working to cut costs amid falling ad revenues recently, including the implementation of layoffs, furloughs and wage cuts.

The company reported a profit of $70.5 million, or 30 cents a share, according to The Wall Street Journal's Dow Jones Newswires, compared with a prior-year loss of $2.29 billion, or $10.03 a share, which resulted from a big write-down, the story said.

A financial blog from The Washington Post, The Ticker, said "if you thought Gannett's profit means the newspaper industry is back on track, you'd be wrong."

Advertising sales in the publishing unit fell 32 percent, to $753.1 million from $1.11 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Other media companies will follow with second-quarter reports. The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) has scheduled a July 21 report and The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) has scheduled a July 23 report.

An Associated Press preview of the company's conference call called Gannett "perhaps the most financially sound company in the newspaper business."

Reuters pointed out that the report mentioned classified ad revenue fell nearly 45 percent in the second quarter, with job classifieds falling 62 percent.

Scott Eden, a stock analyst with TheStreet.com, said, "Concerns have crept up in recent weeks regarding Gannett's ability to meet interest payments on some of its debt, and the company attempted to address those concerns in its earnings release, saying that it has recently restructured some of its debt load."

Lee Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: LEE) reported second-quarter losses May 7, with its second-quarter fiscal period ending in March. The company that owns the St. Louis Post Dispatch and 52 other dailies in 23 states closed Tuesday up a penny at 54 cents a share.

Gannett's stock rebounded from March lows over the second quarter, rising $1.37 to $3.57, according to the AP story. The stock closed Tuesday at $3.49.

Shortly after Wednesday's report, Gannett stock jumped 82 cents to $4.31 and was up another 26 cents to a high of $4.57 by early afternoon. The stock closed up $1.01 to $4.50. CLICK HERE TO TRACK NEWSPAPER STOCKS.

Did you miss all or part of Gannett's report?

A replay of the conference call is available HERE. Or call to access the replay at (800) 776-0816, or (913) 312-0938 for international callers. The confirmation code is 5435434. A transcript is also available at SeekingAlpha.com.

Did Gannett answer the following questions?

Former Gannett Blog publisher Jim Hopkins started a thread Tuesday on the Gannettoid Forum with questions for interim CEO Gracia Martore. Members of the media and the general public were only able to listen to the call, and not ask questions, but here are questions from the Forum for the checklist:

1.) Will you concede that the stock buyback you engineered has helped bring Gannett to the point of bankruptcy? Background: Gannett Blog archive

2.) Will you and other members of the Gannett Management Committee continue to take your bonuses entirely in cash? If so, why should employees and other investors continue to hold shares of Gannett stock? Background: Gannett Blog archive

3.) Is there a plan to adjust compensation levels of managers and corporate officers to match performance results? Will these be eliminated?

4.) What is the plan for Gannett to meet its debt repayment obligations?

5.) Does corporate management realize that gutting newspaper content also guts digital content? If there are no more reporters, there's nothing being reported on the Web, right?

6.) Is there a long-term strategy in place to deal with the changing marketplace, or are plans more reactionary?

7.) Right-sizing ... that's all we've heard for two years. Is there an end goal you can share with us?

8.) Please explain some short-term and long-term goals for the company?

Read the preview of the earnings report here: Gannett News

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