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Gannett expects to meet 1Q earnings forecasts

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[March 19, 2010]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Gannett Co. said Thursday that trends in advertising revenue are continuing in the right direction and the company should meet Wall Street expectations with first-quarter earnings.

Gannett, which owns USA Today along with more than 80 smaller dailies and 23 TV stations, said its publishing division should see a percentage drop in ad sales in the high single digits, or below 10 percent. That would compare with an 18 percent decline in the fourth quarter from the same period of 2008.

Gannett said it expects to report that ad sales in its broadcast division rose by a percentage in the mid-teens. First-quarter ad revenue at Gannett's NBC affiliates likely got a boost from the Winter Olympics in February.

The advertising slump afflicting almost every major media company has been softening as the economy improves and comparisons to year-earlier figures get easier.

"The momentum we had as we ended the fourth quarter last year has continued into the first quarter," Gannett Chief Financial Officer Gracia Martore said at a presentation in New York on Thursday.

She said the company is "comfortable" with the average estimate for the company's first-quarter earnings, which is 40 cents per share, according to a Thomson Reuters survey of analysts.

Gannett notched its largest profit of 2009 in the fourth quarter, helped by cost cutting and a slower ad decline. It earned $133.6 million on revenue of $1.49 billion.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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