Gannett, Lee Enterprises, Ad Revenues Down In April

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By: E&P Staff

Gannett Co. Inc. reported Monday that its April 2007 advertising revenues fell 3.1% on a same-property basis on plunging classified revenue that included a 14.8% drop in automotive.

Newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises Inc. said Monday revenue at papers owned at least a year also fell 3.1% in April, as online advertising growth failed to offset “lackluster” revenue from national, auto and real estate ads.

“Same-property” revenue, a key measure of publishers’ performance, excludes papers bought or sold in the last year.

Gannett said its overall pro forma operating revenues were down 2%, but that if the effect of a strong exchange rate for the British pound was excluded from the results of its U.K. properties, total operating revenues would have fallen 3.6%.

Without the stronger pound, total ad revenues would have been 4.9% lower on a same-property basis, Gannett said.

Results were also impacted by an earlier Easter, Gannett said.

All advertising categories except telecom and home improvement were down for the month, Gannett said.

Classified plummeted 9% if the effect of the pound were excluded. Inside classified, automotive was down 14.8%; real estate 6.5%; help-wanted 5.4%; and other 1%.

Classified results at Gannett’s U.K. papers “were significantly better than in the U.S. community newspapers,” Gannett said.

U.S. classified revenues dropped 11.7%, with declines of 15.2% in real estate revenues; 11.9% in help-wanted; and 16.7% in automotive.

At its flagship USA Today, Gannett reported, advertising revenues declined 1.7% on paid ad pages of 381, compared to 414 last year. Gannett said “significant growth” in the technology, travel, telecommunications, home and building, retail and credit card categories was offset by weakness in the entertainment, automotive, financial, packaged goods and real estate categories.

Meanwhile, Lee, whose papers mostly serve small and midsized markets in the Midwest and Northwest, said total advertising same-property revenue fell 3.5% to $76.8 million from $79.6 million last year, although online ad sales spiked 64%.

Total operating revenue, which includes ad revenue as well as revenue from circulation, commercial printing and online services, fell 3.2% to $99.3 million. The company said ad revenue was “lackluster” during the month, but has improved thus far in May.

The lowest-performing categories included national ad revenue, which fell 15.7% to $4.5 million; auto, which fell 11.7 % to $5.1 million; and real estate, which fell 10.5 % to $5.3 million.

Shares of Lee Enterprises fell 8 cents to $25.78 in morning trading.

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