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GANNETT CO. INC. $26 (New York symbol GCI; Conservative Growth Portfolio, Consumer sector; Shares outstanding: 229.6 million; Market cap: $6.0 billion; WSSF Rating: Above average) earned $0.84 a share in the three months ended March 31, 2008, down 4.5% from $0.88 a year earlier. If you exclude a gain on the sale of land, Gannett’s earnings in the latest quarter fell 12.5%. Revenue fell 5.6%, to $1.7 billion from $1.8 billion, as the weak housing market has hurt real estate-related advertising revenues at its newspapers in Florida, Arizona, California and Nevada. These operations account for 25% of Gannett’s U.S. ad revenue.
Ad sales should pick up later this year, due to the Olympics and the presidential election. Gannett could also take advantage of the current slowdown to expand its print and Internet operations.
Gannett is still a buy for long-term gains.
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