Gannett, At Key Media Conference, Hails Its Digital Strategy

By: E&P Staff and The Associated Press

Gannett Co., the largest newspaper publisher in the country and owner of USA Today, on Wednesday guided for fourth-quarter profit in range of Wall Street’s expectations.

Gannett expects net income in a range of $1.26 to $1.29 per share for the quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial predict a fourth-quarter profit of $1.29 per share, with the low end of estimates at $1.20 per share and the high end at $1.33 per share.

Dave Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting, said at the UBS Media and Communications Conference that the company faced difficult comparisons to the prior year, which included significant political and Olympic spending.

Shares of Gannett rose 2 cents to $35.77 in morning trading, but earlier hit a 52-week low of $35.46. The stock has ranged from $35.52 to $63.50 over the past year.

Gannett executives at the conference today reported on the progress of the company?s overall strategic and digital efforts. They also reviewed the company?s 2008 outlook.

?Gannett is focused on achieving our strategic goal of becoming the digital destination for local news and information in all our markets,? said Craig A. Dubow, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Gannett Co., Inc. ?We have made dramatic changes in our operating structure, newsrooms, mindset and culture in a short time ? all designed to implement this focused digital strategy. In all, it?s been an exciting and challenging year at Gannett, despite the impact of the economy in our markets.?

Sue Clark-Johnson, president of the Newspaper Division, said in a statement: ?We can now serve multiple advertiser-desired audiences news and information on any platform and anytime they wish. The transformative strides we have made this year cannot be understated in their ability to position Gannett solidly in the new media space when the inevitable real estate turnaround occurs.?

?In its 25th anniversary year, USA Today has stayed true to its roots and the result has been another increase in its circulation volume,? said Craig Moon, president and publisher of USA Today.

?Our strong local news position, combined with a very favorable geographic footprint, should result in a record year of political advertising for the company in 2008. The Summer Olympics in Beijing also will be a big opportunity for Gannett,? said Dave Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting. ?In 2007, our digital businesses and online audiences grew in significant numbers. However, the year has been challenging as we were up against significant political and Olympic spending from 2006.?

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