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Medical and Media Buffer Gannett Stations’ Political Decline

MCLEAN, VA.: Shares of Gannett fell around 8 percent today despite fourth-quarter net income of $133.6 million, compared to a loss of $4.7 billion on write-downs last year. Consolidated revenues were down 14 percent to $1.49 billion. Earnings per share came in at 56 cents, compared to last year’s loss per share of $20.65. Shares fell from more than $16 yesterday to around $14.80 in mid-afternoon trading, possibly on early conjecture that Gannett (NYSE: GCI) would not meet analyst expectations, though it ultimately exceeded them.

Gannett’s 23 TV stations generated revenues of $174.5 million compared to $205.6 million in 4Q08, “reflecting $47.5 million lower politically related ad demand,” Gannett’s earnings release stated. “Revenues, excluding political, were up 11.1 percent,” driven in part by double-digit growth in the medical and media categories.

Retail was the largest category in 4Q09, up in the low single digits. Automotive was down mid-single digits, a smaller decline than in the preceding quarters of 2009.

“Based on current trends, we expect the percentage increase in television revenues to be in the very high single digits for the first quarter of 2010 compared to the first quarter of 2009. This is due in part to ad spending related to the Winter Olympic Games on our NBC affiliates,” GCI said.
In a separate announcement, GCI said Gracia C. Martore was named president and chief operating officer. Chairman and CEO Craig  Dubow, to whom she will report, made the announcement. Martore joined Gannett in 1985 as assistant treasurer. She was named vice president of treasury services in 1993; given responsibility for investor relations in 1996, became treasurer and vice president of investor relations in 1998 and was named a senior vice president in 2001. She became chief financial officer in 2003 and was named executive vice president in 2006. Martore is a native of Boston and graduate of Wellesley College. Prior to Gannett, she worked for 12 years in the banking industry.

More on Gannett:
October 19, 2009: Gannett 3Q TV Revenues Dip for Lack of Games
Gannett reported a threefold increase in retransmission revenues, to $14.3 million, which, along with Captivate, partially offset the absence of the Games and the continued weakness in the auto category. 
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