Newspaper Profit Picture Darkens a Bit

By: Lucia Moses

With public newspaper companies set to start reporting first-quarter numbers this week, Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine dropped her forecast for average industrywide earnings-per-share (EPS) growth to 13%, with advertising revenue predicted to rise a modest 2% to 2.5%.

Fine earlier had forecast EPS growth of between 20% and 25% for the quarter. For all of this year and next year, she predicted average EPS growth of 12% and 9%, respectively.

Dow Jones & Co. Inc. and the E.W. Scripps Co. kick off the earnings-reporting season Thursday.

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