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Gannett Co (GCI) Beats on Q1 Earnings; Stock Jumps 7.1%

Diversified publishing conglomerate Gannett Co., Inc. GCI reported first-quarter 2016 results, wherein earnings of 29 cents a share easily surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 12 cents. The better-than-expected earnings were driven by initiatives such as cost structure realignment and streamlining of operations to increase efficiencies. Following, the result the company’s shares jumped 7.1% yesterday.

However, the company’s earnings declined 21.6% year over year. On a reported basis, quarterly earnings came in at 26 cents a share as against 29 cents in the prior-year quarter.

Gannett, which retained the name of its parent company, was formed after the company’s Broadcasting and Digital units were spun off to form a separate entity known as TEGNA Inc. This is not the first time that any media company has spun off its publishing unit. Earlier, Tribune Company had separated its newspaper business into a publicly traded company – Tribune Publishing Company. News Corporation NWSA and Time Warner Inc. TWX have also separated their broadcasting and digital properties from their print business.

Gannett reported total revenue of $659.4 million in the first quarter, down 8.1% from the prior-year quarter. The top line also came in below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $675 million. The company witnessed an 11.6% decline in advertising revenues of $351.2 million and a 3.2% fall in circulation revenues of $271.6 million.

Adjusted EBITDA increased 9.1% to $77.6 million, while adjusted EBITDA margin improved 186 basis points to 11.8%. Increase in adjusted EBITDA was primarily attributed to effective cost management, surge in digital revenues and also gains from businesses acquired in the second-quarter of 2015. However, these were partially offset by reduced print advertising revenues, lower contribution from CareerBuilder affiliate agreement in Aug 2015 as well as foreign currency headwinds.

Strategic Initiatives

Gannett is realigning its cost structure and streamlining its operations to increase efficiencies and safeguard its earnings and cash flows from dwindling print advertising revenues. It also remains focused on improving its digital business. The company also intends to undertake strategic acquisitions.

In order to strengthen its position in the newspaper industry, Gannett acquired Journal Media Group, Inc., the owner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other newspapers, for approximately $260 million. This deal should boost the company’s annual revenue by almost $450 million and nearly $60 million in adjusted EBITDA. Gannett estimates roughly $25 million in cost synergy in the second year.

Other Financial Aspects

In the first quarter, Gannett paid dividends of $18.5 million. During the quarter, net cash flow from operating activities was $15.8 million, while free cash flow aggregated $5.7 million. Capital expenditures incurred during the quarter totaled $10.2 million.

2016 Outlook

Without taking into account the JMG acquisition, the company expects capital expenditure in the range of $50–$60 million and depreciation and amortization of nearly $110 million. The company expects revenues to improve from 2015 on the back of growth in digital. The company apprehends a 5–7% fall in adverting revenues, while circulation revenues are likely to decline by 2–4%. The company plans to update the impact of JMG acquisition during the second-quarter result announcement.

Zacks Rank

Gannett, which shares space with The New York Times Company NYT, currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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