McClatchy posted net earnings of $47.8 million, or $1.02 per share, for the final three months of 2004 compared to earnings of $45.6 million, or 98 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2003.
Thomson First Call analysts expected fourth-quarter earnings of $1 per share.
Its shares rose 10 cents to $70.60 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. They have traded in a range of $67.14 and $74.38 over the past 52 weeks.
Revenue rose 5.2%, to $308.2 million, from $293 million a year ago. The company purchased the Merced Group, a chain of nondaily newspapers in California's Central Valley, in the first quarter of 2004. Excluding the Merced Group, fourth-quarter revenues rose 3.9%.
Fourth-quarter ad revenues were $260.4 million, up 6.2% over the same period last year.
"December advertising revenues, particularly in retail advertising, were better than we had expected," McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt said.
Fourth-quarter circulation revenue rose 0.3% to $41.5 million.
For the full year, McClatchy earned $155.9 million, or $3.33 a share, up from $150.2 million, or $3.23 a share, in 2003. Revenue rose to $1.16 billion from $1.10 billion in 2003.
The company said it expected its first-quarter earnings to come in at 62 cents to 64 cents per share, below the 68 cents per share that three analysts surveyed by First Call expected.
Headquartered in Sacramento, McClatchy publishes 12 daily and 18 non-daily newspapers in California, Minnesota, the Carolinas, and the Pacific Northwest, including the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, and The Sacramento Bee.
By: (AP) The McClatchy Co., publisher of The Sacramento Bee and other newspapers, reported higher fourth-quarter earnings today, citing advertising gains.