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    gannett 1Q08transcript gannett 1Q08transcript Document Transcript

    • GANNETT CO., INC. FIRST QUARTER CONFERENCE CALL AND WEBCAST April 21, 2008 (Edited for clarity) ________________________________________________________________________ PRESENTATION Operator Good day, everyone and welcome to Gannett's first-quarter 2008 earnings conference call. This call is being recorded. Due to the large number of callers, we will limit you to one question or comment. We greatly appreciate your cooperation and courtesy. Our speakers today will be Mr. Craig Dubow, Chairman, President and CEO, and Gracia Martore, Executive Vice President and CFO. At this time, I would like to turn the call over to Gracia Martore. Please go ahead, ma'am. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Welcome to our conference call and webcast to review Gannett's first-quarter 2008 results. We hope that you have had the opportunity to review our press releases this morning, but they can also be found at www.gannett.com. Again with me today are Craig Dubow, Chairman, President and CEO, and Jeff Heinz, Director of Investor Relations. At our presentation at the MEANY luncheon in mid-March, we summarized the progress we have made with our transformation. Chris Saridakis, Senior VP and Chief Digital Officer, discussed a critical component of that transformation -- our digital strategy. Today, Craig will bring you up-to-date on developments since we've presented and he will provide an overview of results for the quarter. Then I will follow with some additional details. Craig? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO
    • Thanks, Gracia and good morning, everyone. Let me begin by talking about the dynamic surrounding Gannett and our industry. Gannett is in the midst of a deep transformation to meet head-on the fundamental changes in the way people consume news and information. We are changing our culture and focusing on customers in ways we never have before. These changes are taking hold and we are making real progress in developing a world-class digital business while enhancing our core products. But overlaying all this hard work is a struggling economy. As we have outlined for you for the past couple of quarters, real estate is very challenged, particularly in some key Gannett states and that is now dragging other segments down. That drag has spread and the turmoil in the markets continues. This has added a degree of difficulty to our transformation while impacting our results, which I will discuss in a few minutes. But we don't think it should completely color our efforts. There are solid reasons for being enthusiastic about the future of Gannett. This is a truth that we have embraced: Advertisers need to successfully connect with consumers no matter where they are. It is up to us to help them make that connection and we will do it through a rich array of content. We have a strong portfolio of traditional media assets -- our core. We are improving our publishing properties and TV stations everyday, both in the way we gather and manage content, as well as the ways that we distribute it. We are extending our reach in local markets through a variety of products and platforms, digitally and in print. In short, these properties are great local franchises tied deeply to their communities. On the digital front, our strategy is to begin with the customer, the advertiser, find out what they want and need and find a way to deliver it. Gannett's content is relevant and valuable to them and we reach an impressive number of consumers monthly --- multiple millions --- through our local publishing and TV franchises and their websites, the USA TODAY brand and Mobile. The goal for digital is to continue to evolve that content, develop the audience and then segment it based on who they are and where they are. At the same time, we are creating better ways to deliver advertising to our consumers. We announced the creation of quadrantONE in the first quarter. This partnership with Tribune, Hearst and The New York Times Company is a national, digital ad distribution network with dedicated inventory to sell. Since our March presentation, we announced the Newspaper Consortium had joined quadrantONE as affiliates, adding 138 websites to quadrantONE's reach. This means quadrantONE now has access to more than 250 newspaper and broadcast websites and more than 70 million unique monthly visitors. The goal is “one call, one buy” ease for our advertisers. 2
    • You may recall, The Newspaper Consortium represents 26 newspaper companies that had formed a partnership with Yahoo!. Within Gannett, we are working on a “one call, one buy” solution for our advertisers through an initiative we call One Gannett. That effort focuses on two areas – the multipurpose use for content and a strategy for advertising that allows one advertiser to place ads across all Gannett properties and platforms. It not only provides the broad reach across all Gannett, it also enables advertisers to connect to communities that they are targeting. Behind the scenes, we have been putting the infrastructure in place to offer a host of solutions to advertisers. Work has started on the development of an ad serving platform that will help us keep close tabs on our ad inventory and ad campaign scheduling. The ad serving platform is a crucial component of the infrastructure, along with PointRoll's ad portal, Planet Discover, and our affiliations on the video side as well. So, we see a wealth of opportunities as we continue our transformation and build our ability to offer solutions to advertisers, both locally and nationally, through a variety of platforms. Meanwhile, in the midst of the transformation and the economy, we are continuing to manage the Company in a way that you have come to expect from us. We are finding new ways to achieve efficiency and change our cost structure, in some cases, through centralization and outsourcing. Over it all sits the economy, and our results that reflect that. The actions the Fed has taken hopefully will lead to economic stability. As chairman Bernanke noted in his testimony at the beginning of the month: uncertainty is quite high and risks remain to the downside. At Gannett, we will manage what we can and are doing our utmost to navigate the uncertain economic environment. Now, turning to the quarter, earnings per share from continuing operations were $0.84. Results for the quarter include a $25.5 million pretax gain on the sale of excess land adjacent to our headquarter building here in McLean. Our earnings are within the range that we have provided at our March presentation. Total operating revenues were $1.7 billion for the quarter. Our continuing efforts to control costs and create efficiencies resulted in a year-over-year reduction in total operating expenses of over $100 million, which was a decline of almost 7%. Operating cash flow was just over $395 million. As noted, it appears the economy has slowed more in the back half of March, putting additional pressure on an already soft advertising environment. The switch of Easter from April last year to March this year also impacted results. 3
    • Our total operating revenues were down over 8% for the first quarter as newspaper advertising revenues were approximately 10% lower. Retail advertising was almost 8% lower; national advertising was unchanged; and classified finished down in the mid- teens. For U.S. Community Publishing, classified advertising continues to be hindered by the real estate slowdown. For the real estate and employment impacted the most in the quarter. The divergence between the results for our properties in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada and those in other parts of the country continue as classified categories were again roughly two to three times worse in those states. Auto was soft in the quarter, but to a much lesser extent overall. Results from our operations in the UK were stronger relative to U.S. Community Publishing as their operating revenues were down in the mid single digits. However, the economic slowdown in the latter half of March tempered results at Newsquest as well, particularly the real estate and employment categories. A bright spot was the positive revenue growth at USA TODAY and USA WEEKEND. USA TODAY's advertising revenues were over 2% higher for the quarter as the top advertising categories -- entertainment, travel and financial -- were all up significantly. As expected, our Broadcasting segment revenues were 7% lower. This included about $5.5 million in politically-related advertising, but that was not enough to overcome the absence of the Super Bowl-related ad revenue that benefited our CBS affiliates in 2007 and softness in other categories, particularly auto. Looking ahead, there is considerable upside potential later this year. We are well-positioned for what appears to be an unprecedented level of advertising associated with the elections in the fourth quarter and the Summer Olympics in Beijing will boost results in third quarter. At this point, pacings for the second quarter of 2008 are lagging the second quarter of 2007 in the mid- to high-single digits. But, as we have indicated in the past, pacings will be volatile, particularly in an election year. We will keep you updated through our monthly reports. Digital revenues companywide contributed to results this quarter. Despite the economic conditions, online revenues were up 6.5% overall. Our domestic online revenues increased 3%. Online results in the U.S. were tempered by a decline in employment advertising that masked the strong growth that we were seeing in auto, as well as retail and national advertising. Online revenue at Newsquest was up over 32% in pounds and Broadcasting was 11.2% higher. In March, our domestic websites had 24.8 million unique users and reached 15.1% of the Internet audience. In the UK, Newsquest's online audience totaled 6.6 million unique visitors with over 94 million page impressions. 4
    • At CareerBuilder, growth in revenue and traffic continued in the quarter. North American network revenue was up about 3% for the quarter compared to the first quarter of 2007. Traffic for the network averaged 23.7 million unique visitors for the first quarter, a 9% increase compared to last year. They are continuing their international expansion as well. Together with Classified Ventures, these partnerships continue to deliver for us and remain a key building block of our digital strategy. Now to dive a little deeper on the results and some factors affecting them, let me turn the call over to Gracia. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Thanks, Craig. Before we go into detail on our quarterly results, I need to remind you, as always, that our conference call and Webcast today may include forward-looking statements and our actual results may differ. Factors that might cause them to differ are outlined in excruciating detail in our SEC filings. This presentation also includes certain non-GAAP financial measures and we have provided a reconciliation of those measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures in the press release and on the investor relations portion of our website. Now that I have that out of the way, let me start today with our publishing segment. Advertising revenues, as Craig indicated, overall for the segment were down 10.2% for the quarter. In the U.S., total ad revenues were about 11% lower. Our operations in the UK fared better, although they did not escape the softening economy, particularly in real estate. Ad revenues at Newsquest in pounds were down about 7%. Breaking this down, let me begin with retail, which declined about 8% in the quarter. Once again, our U.S. Community Publishing properties were more unfavorably impacted relative to the UK. Categories such as furniture and home improvement in the U.S. were impacted by the real estate slowdown, but financial and telecom also were softer. Department stores, our largest retail category, were down in the mid single digits. Classified advertising continued to soften due to the economic slowdown, particularly for those properties in real estate driven markets. For U.S. Community Publishing, real estate advertising was over 30% lower for the quarter, employment was down about 26% and auto declined over 11%. Properties in the four states Craig noted -- Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada -- comprise roughly 25% of advertising revenues for U.S. Community Publishing; yet they drove about 40% of the ad revenue decline. 5
    • Classified advertising at Newsquest was trending the right way through most of the quarter, but it slipped in March and was down about 9% for the full quarter, indicating the UK is beginning to experience the same real estate issues we have in the U.S. Just last week, one of the major house price indices in the UK reported a 2.5% decline, the biggest monthly fall since September of 1992. Now let me turn to expenses for a few minutes. As Craig mentioned, total operating expenses were about 7% lower for the quarter, reflecting a continuing concerted effort to control costs, as well as a commitment to a more efficient cost structure in light of the revenue picture. Operating expenses in the publishing segment declined 6.6%, due primarily to a significantly lower newsprint cost and other cost-containment efforts. On a constant currency cash basis, segment expenses were down 6.9%. Reported newsprint expense was 19.3% lower as usage prices were down almost 6% and volume was over 14% lower. One comment on newsprint before we move to some non-operating items and the balance sheet: Market newsprint prices moved higher in the first quarter while the outcome of increases announced for the second quarter remain uncertain. In response to these conditions, we continue to adjust consumption by reducing press web widths and converting to lighter basis weights, which will act to mitigate market pressures. Producers should anticipate that rising prices will encourage greater conservation measures by publishers. Now turning to the Broadcasting segment, operating expenses there were also lower for the quarter, about 5.5%, due to strong cost controls and in part to lower stock-based compensation. Finally, corporate expense was down significantly in the quarter, about 32%. The decline was due in part to lower stock-based compensation, continued cost control efforts and some operating asset sales. Since stock options granted to our senior executives are done in the first quarter and they are allocated among the segments and corporate, we will not see the level of benefit in the second and third quarters as we have seen in the first quarter, both in our corporate expense, as well as in Broadcasting. Some other non-operating items to note. As we discussed at year-end, we changed the presentation on the income statement and included a new line item in the non- operating section called equity income or losses in nonconsolidated investees into which we reclassified our equity share in the operating results of our newspaper 6
    • partnerships. These are Texas-New Mexico and the California Newspapers Partnership, in which we hold minority investments, and the Tucson JOA. In the past, these were reported in other operating revenue. We also reclassified our portion of the equity earnings of our online and new business investments, including CareerBuilder, Classified Ventures and Metromix to that same line item from other nonoperating income. So that line item now includes our share in those partnerships and the equity earnings in losses from our online and new technology businesses. For the first quarter, the increase in losses for consolidated investees was due to a variety of factors. These include weaker results for the newspaper partnerships, particularly in the West and the addition of new digital investments that we are ramping up this year such as Metromix. And in that case, we are investing in those initial stages. Another factor was the timing of promotions and other expenses for certain digital partnerships. These marketing efforts are critical and are more timing-related. We anticipate they will smooth out over the course of the year. The $25.5 million pretax gain on the sale of land Craig noted is included in other non- operating items. After tax, the gain was about $15.8 million or $0.07 per share. As you have noted, interest expense for the quarter totaled $48.5 million, a decline of over 33% from almost $73 million in the first quarter of '07, which was due to lower average debt balances, as well as lower interest rates. Touching briefly on some of our balance sheet items, total debt at quarter end stood at $4 billion and cash was $166 million. At this point, our all-in cost of debt is approximately 4.2% with commercial paper at about 3%. For the quarter, capital expenditures totaled approximately $28 million. With respect to shares outstanding, shares at the end of the quarter were 228.5 million and the basic quarterly average was 229.2 million. We repurchased about 1.5 million shares in the quarter. Now I will stop and Craig and I will be happy to take your questions. 7
    • QUESTION AND ANSWER Edward Atorino - Benchmark - Analyst Oh, I am never first. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Congratulations. Edward Atorino - Benchmark - Analyst I ought to play the lottery today. I had a question on the interest expense going forward. If I do a quick math on 4% of $4 billion, that is $166 million roughly, which is about $40 million a quarter versus the $48 million. What am I missing? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Well, there are a couple of factors, Ed. Number one, we have a couple of pieces of debt. Our $500 million of fixed-rate notes coming due on June 15 we will refinance, and we may, in the short term, refinance those in commercial paper. But we will also be opportunistically looking at refinancing them in a longer-term fashion over the course of the year as the credit markets permit. The other piece is that we have $1 billion of convertible notes that, as you recall, we did last June. Those are priced at LIBOR minus 23 basis points, which has been a fantastic trade for us. At the time we issued those, we indicated we thought they would be put to us at their one-year anniversary point, which is in mid July. We are assuming that is going to happen and so we would refinance those again on the short term probably in commercial paper, which would be a higher rate than we have right now. So there are a variety of factors that are going to impact interest expense going forward. As well, it will depend on our activity in the share repurchase market, and other investment opportunities that we find. So, as you look at modeling for the rest of the year, in the second quarter, a number slightly lower than what we achieved in the first 8
    • quarter absent additional share repurchases or other investments is probably in the ballpark. Paul Ginocchio - Deutsche Bank - Analyst A question about quadrantONE. I guess 10% of the entire newspaper industry online inventory is still relatively small. I think even Yahoo! with their number one U.S. market position is looking to add affiliates. So I am just wondering how you position your sort of much smaller ad network versus all the other ad networks already existing. Thanks. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO We are evolving this very rapidly with quadrantONE, as well as our own internal One Gannett network. We are looking at seeing a larger percentage of growth over the course of this year as Chris (Saridakis) noted in New York. And he is looking at that at a fairly fast expansion as we move forward. All the site standards, the inventory…all that is in place and now it is time that the infrastructure starts working for us. Paul Ginocchio - Deutsche Bank - Analyst On the USA TODAY side, it looks like March was relatively weak. Is that anything to do with the Easter shift, or has it just been weakening since the relatively good result in February and March? Thanks. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Paul, I think there is some of the Easter Sunday switch that impacts it, but, as I think Craig Moon pointed out back in mid-March, things are very volatile on the national advertising side and ads are being placed very close to publication dates. April has started out not dissimilar to March, but we will just have to see how the month and quarter progress. We will keep you updated in our monthly rev and stat reports. Michael Kupinski - Noble Financial - Analyst I was just wondering, can you bring us up to date on the large number of alternative papers that you launched over the past five years. How they are faring in this environment and what have you done with the number of titles? Are they profitable, that sort of thing? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO 9
    • Right now, we are at around 900 titles domestically. What we have done over the last couple of years – as we had a tremendous amount of launches – is we have stepped back, taken a look at each of the titles, determined if some of them at this point don't make good business sense. We have pared back some of those titles. Others, we have done some things to improve their performance. However, a number of the titles are in the broader classified arena, so they are suffering some of the same pains we are suffering on the daily newspaper side. Nevertheless, we are very pleased with the portfolio as it exists now. We are looking at launching a number of new products as we continue to be very locally focused in the communities we serve, but there is a constant process of revisiting those titles to make sure they are doing the job they were originally intended to do. Over in the UK, same sort of thing: The lion's share of their results come from a very wide array of non-daily titles. They go through the same process we go through here, which is constantly reevaluating titles, shutting some down where it makes sense or launching them where it makes good sense to do so. It is an evolving process. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO To take that a step further, Michael, when you take a look at Indianapolis and our Moms project with respect to online, we have also launched a non-daily product along with that. There are going to be opportunistic times when we look at where we can find real advantage in how we can serve that local community. The key again is how do we better create a broader reach within local. You will be seeing more of that as we move forward. Michael Kupinski - Noble Financial - Analyst And you had mentioned in the past that the margins of those alternative papers were in the range of 25%. Can you just give us an idea of where those margins are now and would any movement in the titles or the number of titles account for any of the differential in the revenue components or expense components in the quarter? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO In the past, Mike, we have indicated that margins on the non-dailies were in the high teens to low 20s and they are probably in that range right now. In the last few quarters, we have taken a particularly hard look at things and so you may see some impact from the fact that we have pruned some of the titles and some of the numbers. Hopefully, we will be doing some cycling of that. I know that is the case in Indianapolis and a few 10
    • other places where we will be cycling some of that over the next couple of quarters. A lot will depend on how the economy fares as well as we go through '08. Michael Kupinski - Noble Financial - Analyst Well, pruning of those haven't accounted for say 1% of revenues or 1% of expenses or anything like that. Are they significant enough to move the needle in the quarter? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO They are significant enough that they can move it a little bit, but I am not sure that we would attribute a huge amount of the shortfall to that. Michael Kupinski - Noble Financial - Analyst Okay. And just one final question. Pacings in Broadcasting in the second quarter, can you break out that between national and local? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO As far as pacings, obviously the local is faring a bit better earlier in the quarter. It is still negative as I had indicated earlier. National, due to the fact at this point of the slower political coming in, is a little further down and that is in the high single digits as I had mentioned earlier. Michael Kupinski - Noble Financial - Analyst Can you talk about headcount…what FTEs were in the quarter and how far they were down? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Yes, overall, we probably saw another mid-single digit decline in FTEs year over year, quarter one to quarter one. Michael Kupinski - Noble Financial - Analyst Okay, great. Thank you very much. Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers - Analyst 11
    • Unless I missed it, can you give us the non-newsprint cash cost percent change in the quarter for newspapers? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Non-newsprint cash cost for newspapers? We are digging that out for you as we speak. On a constant currency cash basis, excluding newsprint, I think it was a little less than 5%. Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers - Analyst Okay, great. And then concerning the Easter effect this year, are you able to give us an estimate of how much the impact was year over year? Was it roughly two to three percentage points? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Craig, that is almost impossible to try to really hone in on. That is why we always recommend that you combine March and April together and look at them in totality to give you -- to sort of neutralize that Easter impact. Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers - Analyst Okay. Again, you are confirming or saying that April so far is tracking down to 12.5% to 13%? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO No, I don't think I confirmed that. I just simply am suggesting that you combine the two. We haven't really indicated --. Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers - Analyst I thought your comments before in April though were tracking similar to March? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO I said that with regard to USA TODAY. Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers - Analyst 12
    • Oh. What about the rest of your papers, please? Do you have a sense there? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO It is varying by category and it is very, very early in the quarter for us to really have a good sense of that. We will obviously report on that in our monthly rev and stat reports. Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers - Analyst Okay, and then lastly, were there any other one-time items in the quarter that you haven't mentioned besides the gain on the asset sale? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO As I mentioned on stock-based compensation in the first quarter, we issue stock options to our senior executives. That would have a more meaningful impact in the first quarter, particularly on corporate expense. It also has some impact in Broadcast because of the lower expense base that they have. There are some operating asset sales that we do. We did some in the first quarter of last year. We have done some in the first quarter of this year, modestly different amounts. And then there’s the land sale in Tysons Corner. Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers - Analyst And lastly, if I could, you have given a $1 billion convert that will probably be put to you, and the $500 million bond maturity coming in a few months. You mentioned using commercial paper, short term gap. Given what is going on with the credit markets, is it possible you guys would actually tap into your bank revolver here? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Given where the credit markets are these days, one should never rule anything out, but as we sit here at this moment, we feel very good about how our commercial paper is being received in the marketplace. We have had extensive conversations with our dealers and feel very good that we will be able to place that commercial paper in the commercial paper market. But, as you know, last year in August, there was a week there where the credit markets melted down and virtually no one could get anything more than overnight commercial paper done. So assuming that the market continues to be as it is today, we anticipate we will successfully roll over our commercial paper. Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers - Analyst 13
    • And just to be clear here, as you have told me in the past, your bank revolver: You renegotiated that about a year, year and a half ago, so you have several more years to go on that, right? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO No. We renegotiated it early last year and it was a five-year revolving credit agreement. It expires in '12 at a little over $3.9 billion. Barton Crockett - JPMorgan - Analyst I just wanted to drill down a little bit into the equity and affiliated companies line, the number that you reported there of the negative $12 million in the quarter. Can you parse out a little bit what the contribution there was from the newspaper partnerships versus Internet and -- I know there was some unusual investment in Internet here because of ramp-up –how that kind of trends going forward through the balance of the year? Thank you. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Yes, what I can tell you, Barton, is that with regard to the newspaper portion of it, the California Newspaper Partnership obviously is suffering the same kinds of difficulties you have heard from other companies, as well as ourselves, that have a concentration of California properties. It is a very difficult impact. Overall, the newspapers are continuing to make money, but at a diminished rate as you are seeing across all newspaper companies. On the digital side, as we mentioned last year, Metromix is new in the first quarter. We are in a ramp-up mode there, so that is a few million dollars of investment spending there. CareerBuilder, as always, does a significant amount of promotion spending in the first quarter. They are doing international expansion as well, so the promotional expenses there would have hit us a little bit more than they did last year. As I said earlier, we expect that will even out over the course of the year,. The same with Classified Ventures, where we are doing some additional things so expenses were higher in the first quarter. We anticipate those will smooth out over the rest of the year. Then obviously we have the addition of quadrantONE, a small piece of the pie. Peter Appert - Goldman Sachs - Analyst 14
    • Gracia, just expanding on that last one. Can you give any expectations in terms of what that equity line might look like on a full-year basis? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Where we are today, and assuming no additional investments, which may or may not in fact be the case, I think that -- and it will depend on how newspaper numbers roll out for the rest of the year -- the dramatic change you saw in the first quarter should mitigate over the rest of the year and be closer to last year. That’s because we would expect that CareerBuilder and Classified Ventures, unless there is some additional investment in Classified Ventures, would look a bit better. Metromix will continue to have investment losses. Those numbers will get closer as the year progresses, year over year. Peter Appert - Goldman Sachs - Analyst Okay. And keeping with the tradition of avoiding you or ignoring your request for one question, just several more. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Quite a tradition. Peter Appert - Goldman Sachs - Analyst The March weakening or the weaker trends you saw on the second half of March, do you have any color in terms of -- were there specific categories, was it all classified- related, was it more broad-based? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO On the newspaper side, and Craig you may want to comment on the Broadcast side, but on the newspaper side, I think it was clearly on the classified side and you would expect, on Easter Sunday, that classified is the area obviously the hardest hit and people aren't out looking at new cars or doing real estate transactions and the like. Clearly, the impact is on the classified side. Other areas don't jump right out at me. Peter Appert - Goldman Sachs - Analyst 15
    • Although -- what was noteworthy I thought was that the retail was just a little bit weaker in March than you had seen year to date. I had assumed that theoretically the Easter effect would be a positive on the retail side. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO I am not sure anymore frankly as to really what the impact is on the retail side other than probably in the food category. Anecdotally, if one went to church, there aren't a lot of people donning their new Easter bonnets these days and so I think that that kind of department store spending and the like seems to be mitigated. It is really more down to the grocery category, but I can't think much of anything more than that. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO On the television side, Peter, the key areas of concern for the quarter have been automotive, as we had discussed. Retail and home furnishings were difficult. Telecommunications – and really when you look at movies and home video area as well – we saw some decline there. Those were the key areas that would have had impact. Peter Appert - Goldman Sachs - Analyst Then should we expect the out-quarter share repurchase activity similar to what you did in the first quarter? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Again, we will be opportunistic on that, Peter. One quarter's activity doesn't necessarily mean that's what the remaining quarters will look like. We will just look at it each quarter and it depends on what else is on the plate in a particular quarter. If there are other investment or acquisition opportunities or, for instance, there is some debt we are going to be repaying. We may want to forestall a few share repurchases as we get that all lined up. John Janedis - Wachovia - Analyst Craig, I realize they are volatile, but given the 2Q pacings, can you expand a bit on political? I think you did something like $9.5 million and $14 million over the prior two election year cycles during 2Q. When do you expect it to really start to head up more this year? Have the traditional categories pulled back to much more than you would have expected at this point? Thanks. 16
    • Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO Sure. John, just to kind of put it a little bit in perspective. When you look at the spending right now, specifically on the Democratic side, the delayed nomination has really pushed back some of the spending. When you look at it from a 527and a PAC spending perspective, likely that will continue until the nomination is decided. I would even go further that in the event this carries on to the convention, I think those dollars would continue to get pushed back. But having said that, what we are understanding is that the dollars exist and will likely be spent as anticipated. It is just going to be a later spending pattern than what we would normally have seen. To say that has any relation with auto, retail or any of the other categories I just mentioned… There is just some softness in these categories going on at this time. Frankly, as we move through the year -- and I will just come back to the political for a second -- with the portfolio of stations Gannett has, you are going to see some really great activity coming out of Cleveland, Tampa, Jacksonville, Denver, Grand Rapids. We are ideally positioned. We are feeling very solid; it is just more of a timing issue -- if that is responsive to your question. John Janedis - Wachovia - Analyst Yes, thanks. And along those lines, do you still expect double-digit increases for the Olympics this year or is it too soon to know? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO I would say at this point it is still a little early for the spot side and on the local side. But I know that the team is working very hard on it. The advantage we are going to see is because of what NBC has done with prime time and those key events. There will be some significant and added interest due to that, but it is a little early yet to tell. John Janedis - Wachovia - Analyst Okay. Thanks. Peter asked my other seven questions. Thank you. Sylvia Jasaroska - Bear Stearns - Analyst I just had a couple of quick questions. The first, I just want a clarification. Was political spending this quarter $4.2 million or $5.5 million? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO 17
    • Political was $5.5 million net. Sylvia Jasaroska - Bear Stearns - Analyst And then how much in Super Bowl ad dollars was there in Q1 '07? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO I think it was in the $3 million to $4 million dollar range as I am recalling. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO That's right, yes. Sylvia Jasaroska - Bear Stearns - Analyst Okay. If you could talk about the slowdown in digital advertising growth, especially on the newspaper side, to the low to mid-single digit range? How much of that is actually related to the classified weakness? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO A substantial portion is related to classified weakness. When we look and dissect the numbers on the classified side, particularly in employment, there are just fewer print ads available to be sold. On the classified side, we are under pressure. When we look at other categories like retail, those numbers had very nice double-digit increases in retail and in national in other in the U.S. Community Publishing side -- the U.S. side. The weakness is on the classified side and the classified side still represents 50% to 55% of our digital revenues. That is a diminishing percentage as we continue to increase the retail and national and other sides of the equation. Sylvia Jesruskin - Bear Stearns - Analyst If I could throw one more inside. Was Newsquest profitable this quarter and if it wasn't, --? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Absolutely profitable. Absolutely profitable. 18
    • Karl Choi - Merrill Lynch - Analyst Were there any unusual comparisons as far as severance in the quarter? And related to that, assuming the top line is going to continue to be difficult but you will be coming up against difficult cost comparisons in the second half, should we expect an FTE decline to start to lessen as we get into the second half and how do you balance it against investments? Thanks. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO On the severance side, when I look at new severance in the quarter, I think that it is roughly comparable to what we did in the first quarter of last year. As to FTEs and the second half of the year, Karl, we are just going to have to see where business conditions are. The one thing you can be certain of is that we are very focused on spending the dollars and investing dollars where we see that there are good opportunities in the medium to long term, Metromix being a very good example of that. And all the things that we are doing on the digital side that Chris articulated at our meeting in mid-March, really ramping up ad serving and a number of pieces, the Moms sites, etc. So investment really is occurring where we see great opportunities to achieve revenue growth. And on our traditional side, investing in sales resources and sales training to make sure that we are going after every available revenue dollar in the markets that we serve. We will just have to see how the economy and revenues play out and we will make decisions accordingly. Karl Choi - Merrill Lynch - Analyst As far as newsprint is concerned, I know you're on a FIFO accounting, so presumably whenever the second-quarter increase goes through, it should have relatively little impact on your pricing performance in the second quarter. Is that the right assumption to make? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Well, price increases in the first quarter will play into the second quarter. As you recall, last year when we were in the second quarter, we had prices declining. So even though we are on FIFO, there will be the impact of increasing prices in the first quarter that we will have to deal with. Those comparisons will be more difficult in the second quarter. On the usage side, as I said earlier, more focus on lightweight, more focus on web width reductions and other conservation measures will help to mitigate some of that. 19
    • Thomas Russo - Gardner Russo Gardner - Analyst I'm wondering if you could talk a bit about Captivate and what is going on there, how are you continuing to sell that inventory, maybe what links you might have with other activities in the outdoor advertising section in the sector in general? What is going on with Captivate? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO Captivate, at this point as far as 2Q is concerned, is pacing nicely. We did see some slowdown going through in 1Q as we had noted. However, I would suggest, with the out-of-home area, we are still very enthusiastic. We continue the expansion that we have had in elevators. And as we go forward, we are going to see, we hope, even more opportunity through what we are calling the One Gannett sales effort to be able to combine the one call, one buy prospect that will give us, I hope, even greater opportunities. As we see it right now frankly, Thomas, it is a good situation and as I said, pace was increasing and improving nicely for Q2. Thomas Russo - Gardner Russo Gardner - Analyst Great. And on the one call, one buy, do you have overlapping customers or is the audience for Captivate a more national sort of brand marketing versus what you typically call on? How do the target markets line up? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO Well, the way that can work -- of course, not everyone will, but I think the key element here is we will have the ability from a national perspective, we will have a regional perspective and a local perspective and any combination thereof. And that is really what we are trying to do. We can match up the impressions, if you will, with advertiser need and be able to produce those across varying product lines and/or platforms to give us the greatest opportunity. The initial efforts in this, we are very excited by it and certainly with the pressure on the advertisers and everyone else at this point in time, this concept seems to make an awful lot of sense. We are going to push it forward very rapidly. Thomas Russo - Gardner Russo Gardner - Analyst And then assuming, as you said, selling the network up, as you complete the network, you add more value I suspect over time. So the more you spend --. 20
    • Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO Absolutely. And just as we have had significant luck with the consortium of 26 newspaper companies coming in just since our March meeting, with 70 million uniques, we have a formidable network and there will be a significant amount of opportunity from a choice perspective to really leverage that local opportunity. We are quite excited by what these opportunities are bringing in and certainly the participation that we have right now. Thomas Russo - Gardner Russo Gardner - Analyst Thank you. Then the other one is, just as you try to sell your TV ad time, how do you deal with this C3 measurement issue that is creeping up as you are trying to track the DVR follow-through to viewership? Does it affect you and how has it increased or changed your ratings and audience? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO We are moving forward on each front as the different technologies come forward. Thus far, the impact has been negligible. We are working in the LPM markets, which continue to be rolled out and we are very, very pleased with the results that Dave and the Broadcast group have been able to achieve despite some of the situations with our NBC stations. Our dominance in the market, and the goal of being number one or two, with our news products will continue. The stations understand how absolutely important this is. Despite whatever the technological methodology will be, they will be there to serve those local communities in every way possible. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO We just have time for one more question. We will be more diligent in enforcing the one question per person rule next quarter, but one more question. John Kornreich - Sandler Capital - Analyst Yippee. Two things. Where does the Publishing headcount stand now versus 12, 15 months ago as a percent down? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Over the last 12 months, it is down in the 8% range. 21
    • John Kornreich - Sandler Capital - Analyst Wow, and you still have voluntary plans out there for people to leave if they want to? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO We have a couple of situations where that is the case. John Kornreich - Sandler Capital - Analyst Okay. Secondly, I want to congratulate you on being the only newspaper company with two digits to the stock price. As a matter of fact, I did an exercise, if you total up all the other newspaper stock prices, it doesn't quite get to yours. Anyway. Lastly, Craig, how are you feeling? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO I am feeling good. As we look at things, we need some help from this economy, but at the end of the day, I have to tell you what Chris and the whole team are doing is really moving forward. As I said in the prepared comments, from a cultural perspective, we are moving forward. People understand the necessity of our information centers and of the One Gannett initiative. We are very excited about where we are going overall and feeling good about it. John Kornreich - Sandler Capital - Analyst Great. And your back is getting better? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO My back is doing fine. Day by day, it does get better and I am feeling quite good about it. John Kornreich - Sandler Capital - Analyst Glad to hear it. Thanks. Operator That does conclude the Q&A session. I will turn it back to management for closing remarks. 22
    • Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP & CFO Thanks very much for joining us this morning. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call Jeff Heinz at 703-854-6917 or me. Thanks and have a great day. Certain statements in this transcript may be forward looking in nature or “forward looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The forward looking statements contained in this transcript are subject to a number of risks, trends and uncertainties that could cause actual performance to differ materially from these forward looking statements. A number of those risks, trends and uncertainties are discussed in the company’s SEC reports, including the company’s annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. Any forward looking statements in this transcript should be evaluated in light of these important risk factors. Gannett Co., Inc. is not responsible for updating the information contained in this transcript beyond the published date, or for changes made to this document by wire services or Internet service providers. 23