Third-Quarter 2000 Earnings
ARLINGTON, Va. – Gannett announced today that reported diluted earnings per share from continuing operations advanced 13 percent to 79 cents in the third quarter of 2000, a new record. In the third quarter of 1999, reported diluted earnings per share from continuing operations were 70 cents. Results for the quarter include the operations of: News Communications & Media PLC (“Newscom”) acquired in June 2000; 19 daily newspapers along with numerous weekly and niche publications acquired from Thomson Newspapers Inc. in July 2000; and Central Newspapers, Inc. The cash tender offer for Central was completed in August 2000. Operating results exclude cable, which is reported as a discontinued operation in the company’s financial statements. The sale of the assets of Multimedia Cablevision, Inc. was completed in January 2000.
For the third quarter of 2000, cash EPS (defined as after tax income from continuing operations plus depreciation and amortization expense, per diluted share) rose 22 percent to $1.18, up from 97 cents in the third quarter of 1999.
Operating revenues from continuing operations in the third quarter advanced 24 percent to $1,599,289,000. If Gannett had owned the same complement of properties in both quarters, revenues from continuing operations would have increased 3 percent. During the quarter, reported revenues from our United Kingdom operations were unfavorably impacted by the decline in the exchange rate for Sterling. If the exchange rate had remained constant year-over-year, pro forma revenues would have increased 4 percent. Operating cash flow (defined as operating income from continuing operations plus depreciation and amortization) increased 23 percent to $524,576,000 in the quarter from $428,191,000 in the year earlier interval. Income from continuing operations advanced 5 percent in the third quarter to $208,263,000 from $197,780,000 in 1999’s third quarter.
Average diluted shares outstanding in the quarter totaled 265,232,000 compared to 282,200,000 in 1999’s third quarter. The company has repurchased approximately 14.7 million shares year-to-date.
For the first nine months of 2000, operating cash flow from continuing operations increased 19 percent from $1,258,823,000 to $1,499,598,000. Income from continuing operations, which excludes the $745 million after-tax gain from the sale of the cable assets, advanced 12 percent to $677,042,000. Income from continuing operations for the first nine months of 1999, excluding a net non-operating after-tax gain from a television station exchange of $33 million, was $602,582,000. Reported diluted earnings per share from continuing operations, which excludes the gain from the sale of cable, increased 17 percent to $2.51. In 1999, reported diluted earnings per share from continuing operations, excluding the net after-tax gain on the television exchange, totaled $2.14. Cash EPS, which excludes net non-operating gains and discontinued operations in both years, increased 22% to $3.50 for the first nine months of 2000, compared to $2.87 for the same period in 1999. Operating revenues from continuing operations increased 18 percent to $4,453,932,000 for the first nine months.
In a statement, the company said that the recent acquisitions boosted operating cash flow and cash EPS, but incremental interest expense and goodwill amortization associated with those properties tempered reported earnings per share. Newspaper operating results benefited from solid advertising demand, particularly in national and classified. Newsprint expense rose 30 percent for the quarter, as a result of higher usage related to recent acquisitions and also from higher prices. The television group achieved substantially improved operating results year-over-year, buoyed by political and Summer Olympics-related advertising demand.
Operating cash flow from newspapers grew 24 percent in the third quarter to $446,473,000, and revenues increased 26 percent over the same period last year. If the same group of newspapers had been held in both periods, pro forma advertising revenues would have increased 3 percent in the quarter, including a 9 percent gain in national, a 2 percent increase in classified and a 1 percent decline in local. Pro forma newspaper advertising volume advanced 2 percent for the quarter.
At USA TODAY, paid advertising pages increased 4 percent to 1,502 compared to 1,443 in the third quarter of 1999. Advertising revenues grew 9 percent in the quarter. For the year-to-date, USA TODAY’s advertising revenues were up 15 percent and paid pages numbered 5,019, compared with 4,539 last year, an 11 percent increase.
Television cash flow increased 14 percent from $81,295,000 to $92,295,000 in the third quarter of 2000. Revenues rose 10 percent to $183,352,000 from $166,770,000, benefiting from increased demand for television advertising during the Summer Olympics and political spending.
At the end of the third quarter, Gannett had 87 domestic newspaper Web sites, including USATODAY.com, the No. 1 newspaper site and a leading general interest news site on the Internet with more than 25 million monthly visitors. The company also had Web sites in all of its 19 television markets. In addition, all of Newsquest’s newspapers have an Internet presence. In the first nine months of 2000, the company generated about $45 million in revenue from Internet activities.
Gannett Co., Inc. is an international news and information company that publishes 99 daily newspapers in the USA, including USA TODAY, the nation’s largest-selling daily newspaper. The company also owns in excess of 200 non-daily publications in the USA and USA WEEKEND, a weekly newspaper magazine. In the United Kingdom, Gannett subsidiary Newsquest plc publishes nearly 300 titles, including 15 daily newspapers. Gannett also operates 22 television stations in the United States and is an Internet leader.