gannett Final4Q2006


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gannett Final4Q2006

  1. 1. GANNETT CO., INC. FOURTH QUARTER and FULL YEAR 2006 CONFERENCE CALL AND WEBCAST February 2, 2007 PRESENTATION ________________________________________________________________________ Operator Good day, everyone, and welcome to Gannett's fourth-quarter 2006 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 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. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Thanks, Tony and good morning. Welcome to our conference call and Webcast. Hopefully you have had an opportunity to review the press releases from this morning, which also can be found at With me today again are Craig Dubow, Chairman, President, and CEO, and Jeff Heinz, Director of Investor Relations. We will keep our comments brief this morning since we saw many of you in early December. Craig will begin today with an update on the strategic initiatives we outlined at the year-end conferences and will provide an overview of our quarterly results. I will follow up with some specific details on the quarter. Craig? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO Thanks, Gracia, and good morning, everyone. We gave a pretty thorough look at the strategic plan during the media week conferences, so I won't go into any great detail again. But I want to review it briefly because it describes what we have been doing this past year and where we are going in 2007.
  2. 2. The plan is twofold. We will augment and develop our core businesses while we continue to develop an international digital business. That began with the creation of Gannett Digital at the beginning of the year and is continuing as we do a number of strategic deals and startups that enhance our infrastructure. Another major component of the strategic plan is the rollout of our Information Center initiative across the newspaper division, its adaptation at USA TODAY and in the broadcast division and the beginning of its development in the UK. This initiative goes hand in glove with our audience-based advertising strategy which is being rolled out across our newspapers through an ambitious training program. Fostering innovation with the goal of creating new business and new top-line revenues is another major component of the strategic plan. Ideas are bubbling up through the Center for Design and Innovation, and as we speak are being developed into potential solid businesses for the Company. Finally, we are implementing a plan to foster leadership and diversity throughout the company in order to find, develop, and retain the absolute best employees for Gannett. Let me bring you up-to-date on the progress of the plan. Our Information Center is a restructuring of the newsroom from one designed to get out the daily newspaper or to produce the daily newscast, to one that aggregates local content to be disseminated across multiple platforms 24/7. Plans have been submitted for every one of our community newspapers, and rollout is set for completion by May 1, 2007, or earlier. This is a significant undertaking, and the speed and enthusiasm with which it is happening is absolutely breathtaking. I truly believe the Information Center is the newsroom for the 21st century. We already have experienced some early successes in both print and online and have learned how increasing traffic online can drive audiences to the print product. One example is the Information Center experiment in November at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle. In a reverse of the usual process, the newsroom took a Web- first approach with an extensive report on police salaries and overtime, publishing a database online and promoting print coverage for that Sunday. The online database recorded thousands of searches through the weekend. On Sunday, the newspaper reported the highest single copy circulation sales of the year. No other significant news or sports events were factors that day. Other examples of community-based content that have driven increases in Web traffic include the Asbury Park, NJ, newspaper and FLORIDA TODAY. At the Asbury Park 2
  3. 3. Press, an online section that included a searchable database of town-by-town crime statistics, home sales, property ownership records and obituaries led to significantly higher traffic on the site. FLORIDA TODAY in Brevard saw audience grow with the Watchdog section on its website. Included were a daily interactive blog, links to all public service special coverage by the newspaper, and an area for residents to comment and offer story tips and suggestions. The database of content includes restaurant inspections, crime reports, and a way to contact lawmakers. Our ability to reach and develop new audiences has been highlighted by the overnight success of, a site focused on one of the most sought-after demographics we can deliver, at-home and working mothers. From its start just over two months ago we now have 620,000 page views for IndyMoms in January, and the site already is exceeding budget. A site in Cincinnati,, was launched very recently and already we are seeing a significant number of page views, unique visits, registered users, and, most importantly, advertiser inquiries. Based on our success with IndyMoms we are expanding the number of “Moms” sites across the country. To connect these wider audiences with revenue, we have undertaken a massive retraining of our sales staff in audience-based selling. More than 650 publishing, digital, and broadcast executives will take part in four-day training programs that focus on audience-based selling over the next six months. We have achieved some success in selling to a wider audience with our niche publications. This training pushes that selling focus to all parts of Gannett. In addition, we are moving forward with our national network of Internet ad sales with Tribune and McClatchy. The network will focus on the needs of our customers and will allow any national advertiser to reach local newspaper website users more efficiently. The progress we have made to date and our early successes indicate that we are moving in the right direction, with the potential for outstanding results as these initiatives ramp up and take hold. Now, turning to our results for the year and quarter. For the year, I am pleased to report that the revenue surpassed the $8 billion mark and our operating cash flow totaled $2.3 billion, as we anticipated in December. Excluding stock compensation, operating cash flow result was unchanged from 2005. For the quarter, Gannett earned $1.51 per diluted share including about $0.03 for stock- based compensation expense. Overall, our reported operating revenues for the quarter 3
  4. 4. totaled $2.2 billion. Operating cash flow was slightly over $656 million. The quarter's results were impacted by an extra week compared with the fourth quarter of 2005, making revenue growth comparisons difficult. Nevertheless, there were quite a few bright spots in what was in overall an uneven advertising environment. On a pro forma basis including the extra week, newspaper advertising revenues for the quarter were up over 5%. Local and national advertising contributed significantly to that growth, increasing 6.6% and about 9% respectively. Solid revenue growth from our non-daily and niche publications contributed to the increase. USA TODAY finished the quarter strongly with ad revenue up double digits for each of the last two months. In the classified categories, the company-wide trends we experienced at the beginning of the quarter continued through December. Real estate was positive, while employment and automotive remained negative. In the UK, Newsquest's results stabilized during the quarter and finished the year with a modest recovery that was driven by positive advertising growth in December in pounds, the first positive top-line results in quite a while. In the classified categories, a critical component of Newsquest's recovery, the underlying declines continue to moderate. As expected, our television stations benefited from the strong positions in their markets and generated roughly $58 million in politically-related ads. That was record political revenue for a fourth quarter in the company's history. Very healthy revenue also from Captivate contributed to the growth in the quarter. As you know, a key piece of our strategy is to develop and extend our digital businesses. We continue to see significant growth. Online revenues for the year were over $400 million. For the quarter, companywide online revenues were up about 25% with strong growth in all of our segments. Our domestic community newspapers were up about 22% and Newsquest was up about 37% in pounds. Broadcasting had an increase of over 50%; and advanced about 42%. In December, our domestic Web sites had 22 million unique users and reached about 14% of the Internet audience. In the UK, Newsquest's online audience totaled 3.3 million unique users with 43 million page impressions. In fact, a study released by the National Online Recruitment Audience Survey on Monday, highlighted that fish4jobs is the leading recruitment Web site in the UK. The study noted its mainstream appeal and strong regional reach as contributors to Fish4's continued market domination. 4
  5. 5. In the U.S., CareerBuilder continues to grow and expand its brand. CareerBuilder network revenue was up 29% compared to the fourth quarter of 2005. Traffic for the network increased 20% and averaged over 18 million unique visitors for the fourth quarter. We are very pleased to be a significant part in the largest online job sites in both the U.S. and the UK. With that, 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 that our conference call and Webcast today may include forward-looking statements and our actual results may differ. Factors that may cause them to differ are outlined 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 moving to the quarter, a number of items had an impact on our results. The most significant of these and the one that makes comparisons the most difficult is the additional week in the quarter. The acquisitions of television stations KTVD in Denver and WATL in Atlanta in the third quarter also affected the reported results for the broadcast segment. And as we have noted in the past, the reorganization of the Texas- New Mexico Newspapers Partnership had an impact on our non-operating items. Our percentage of the net results of the partnership is now included in other operating revenues, rather than fully consolidated in the financial statements. That is similar to our California newspaper partnership interest. Therefore, as you can see, there is no longer a minority interest expense piece in the non-operating area. Comparisons of this quarter's results to 2005 are also negatively impacted by stock compensation expense of $12.7 million. Finally on the revenue side, we benefited from the increase in the foreign exchange rate compared to last year's fourth quarter. However, that also led to higher expense numbers as well. This morning, we provided you with our earnings and revenue and statistical numbers. The revenue and expense results in some cases included the extra week in December. To help you get a better understanding of the underlying revenue trends on a more apples-to-apples basis, let me run through some of the pro forma numbers that exclude that extra week. 5
  6. 6. On that basis, total revenues for the quarter were up 2.4%, driven as Craig mentioned by revenue growth in the local and national categories, in addition to very strong ad demand and our broadcasting segment. Overall, pro forma newspaper segment ad revenues increased slightly for the quarter. In our U.S. newspapers, we achieved gains in local and national while classified lagged last year's results. In the UK, as Craig mentioned, total revenues in pounds -- again excluding the extra week -- trailed last year's results by about 2.8% for the quarter. However, in period 12, Newsquest's total revenues in pounds were about 0.5% ahead of last year, the first monthly increase Newsquest has achieved since February of 2005; and the all-important classified revenues were slightly positive. At USA TODAY, both paid pages and ad revenues were strongly ahead of last year's period 12 results, excluding the extra week. On the same basis, fourth-quarter ad revenues were also up solidly, almost 8%, while paid pages were almost 5% higher. In Broadcasting, which includes Captivate, pro forma revenues were 16.6% higher for the quarter including, as Craig mentioned, $58 million in politically-related ad demand and excluding the extra week. Substantially higher revenue at Captivate, about a 65% increase, and in online contributed to the growth. Total revenues on a pro forma basis at our TV stations were also up nicely, slightly over 15%, again excluding that extra week. The last pacings data we have for the first quarter of 2007 show numbers down in the mid to high single digits due primarily to the absence of over $22 million of Olympic revenue that we achieved in the first quarter of last year. That is where we stand at the moment. We will keep you updated through our monthly reports, and we will continue our monthly reporting. Moving on to our expenses, factors that impacted our revenue picture were also at play on the expense side this quarter. The extra week, acquisitions, stock-based compensation, as well as staff reduction costs associated with several efficiency initiatives both here and in the UK. First, stock-based compensation totaled $12.7 million in the quarter, about $7.9 million after-tax or $0.03 per share. The expense was allocated as follows. $7.2 million to the newspaper segment; approximately $1.4 million to broadcasting; and about $4 million was allocated to corporate. 6
  7. 7. Reported expenses were about 9.8% higher for the quarter. Excluding that stock-based compensation expense, they would have been up 9%. The extra week was a significant contributor to those higher expenses. As you know, we continually analyze and review our operations to find opportunities to improve efficiency and to size the cost side appropriately to the revenue opportunity. In the fourth quarter, our higher level of expense reflects some of those efforts. Costs for the quarter include a little over $15 million in additional buyout and severance costs, primarily associated with those efforts companywide, including the consolidation of circulation call center operations, the consolidation of some printing and production operations, and other initiatives at our newspapers. We expect the cost savings going forward from these initiatives will be significant. In the newspaper segment, reported expenses increased about 8.3%. Excluding stock comp the newspaper segment expenses would have been 7.8% higher. Turning to newsprint for a moment, reported newsprint expense was up 6.4% for the quarter. The price was up about 7.3% offset by about 1% lower usage. However, excluding the 53rd week, usage would have been down about 7%. So overall, summarizing this, looking at pro forma, constant currency newspaper expenses and excluding the extra week, newsprint, stock comp, and most buyout costs, newspaper segment costs would have been up about seven-tenths or eight-tenths of 1%. On the broadcasting side, reported expenses were up about 26%, again reflecting stock compensation and the additional expenses associated with the TV station acquisitions. On a pro forma basis, and excluding stock comp and the extra week, the increase was 11.9%, again reflecting costs associated with the significant revenue increases at both our TV stations and at Captivate. Turning to corporate expenses, stock-based compensation accounted for virtually all of the increase there. As we discussed at our year-end conferences, our tax rate for the quarter was 31.5%, and includes the favorable resolution of several state and federal issues as well as our further refinement of our Section 199 manufacturing deduction. Going back to newsprint for a second, the soft market conditions we saw in the latter part of last year have now carried over into the new year, causing newsprint prices to decline. As price pressures abate for newspapers, we maintain our support for longer- term arrangements that recognize marketplace realities but continue to reflect competitive prices. As we discussed at the year-end conferences, we have budgeted for newsprint purchase prices to be down in the low single digits this year. However, early 7
  8. 8. in the year, we will have higher year-over-year usage prices, reflecting the price increases in 2006 and our FIFO basis for inventory. Touching briefly on some of our balance sheet items, total debt at quarter end stood at $5.2 billion. Cash and marketable securities were $94 million. At this point, our all-in cost of debt is 5.4%, with commercial paper in that same range. For the quarter, capital expenditures totaled about $66 million and concluded at about $200 million for the year. With respect to shares outstanding, basic shares at the end of the quarter were 234.5 million; and the quarterly average was in that same range. Finally, before we go to questions, I want to comment on the first quarter of 2007 as it presents us with quite a few challenges, as we noted in December. We will have to overcome the absence of that $22 million of Olympic revenue and also the gain that we realized on the sale of the Cincinnati Reds in the non-operating area. In addition, at our domestic community newspapers, we face the toughest year-over-year comparisons, particularly in real estate. We also have the impact of year-over-year higher newsprint usage prices and also higher interest rates. We will keep you updated on our revenue outlook in our monthly releases during the quarter. Now I will stop; and Craig and I will be happy to take your questions. Tony? QUESTION AND ANSWER Lisa Monaco - Morgan Stanley - Analyst Gracia, could you just give us a little more color on January? Are you seeing in the UK positive growth there? Then a little bit more color in the U.S. community newspaper group. Then, secondly, on the margins: Just surprised that the margins haven't shown greater improvement. You are seeing a little bit of revenue trends in the newspaper group. Granted, you did have that $12 million of severance in there. Can you just talk about how we should think about margins for the year? Thank you. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO With regard to Newsquest, just to remind you of what we said in December, that extra week in December for Newsquest -- unlike with the U.S. community newspapers and 8
  9. 9. other operations in the U.S. -- is actually not a positive one for Newsquest. So they are starting off on a good note here in January, including the benefit they are getting from not having that week between December and January, which is typically a lag on their results. But even absent that, they are feeling a little bit better about the trends they are seeing. It is a little too early to call whether the quarter will be a positive one or not. But all the signs thus far point to further moderation of declines and the possibility of maybe some positive news there. On the U.S. community newspaper front, as you know, our numbers exceeded our expectations in early December on how we would fare for the month. Part of that is because of the extra week; but also because the extra week was as strong as it was. Particularly we saw more strength in preprint than we have typically seen in that exact week in prior years. That being said, that is having an impact on the January numbers, because the positive week is now not in the January period. Also, as our friends at Scripps and others have noted, real estate advertising in Florida has certainly slowed. We have had substantial year-over-year gains in real estate in Florida, in Phoenix, Palm Springs, and those really, really hot markets. Some of that has begun to slow a good deal, as we anticipated as we saw housing permits decline over the last several months. But our folks will try to focus on the resale side and maximize the opportunities there as well. As for USA TODAY, they too saw a tremendous amount of late advertising, particularly in that extra week in December. So they are seeing a little bit of a slower start to January. As you know, January is our smallest month of the year. I always hesitate to try to look at any trends coming out of January. Craig, you may want to comment on Broadcast. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO Yes in Broadcast, overall, automotive has not given us much more visibility than we had in December. Retail had perked up a bit, and has since slid back some. Still positive, however. The restaurant category in broadcast has not held up as well either. So we are down in the mid singles from a pacing perspective, as Gracia commented and we will just have to see how that develops. As you look further into the year, I suspect there will be some other political opportunities that could potentially develop by mid to late third quarter. The key there being our number one/number two rating position - 9
  10. 10. something Roger Ogden has been very successful at maintaining. That will have us nicely positioned as we go into that political season later in the year. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Lisa, getting back to the last part of your question vis-a-vis margins. You quite rightly focused in on the fact that between the US and the UK, the severance and buyout costs actually totaled a little north of $15 million, so clearly that has an impact; also stock compensation expense this year, which was nonexistent in 2005. Newsprint expense has an impact on the margin side. Then, Detroit, as we have indicated, has suffered from a very difficult economy. Those margins are not up to the Gannett standards. This year we have included all of Detroit in our numbers, whereas previously we did not. We fully consolidate Detroit now. All of those factors went into the mix. As to 2007, we will have some pluses and minuses. Newsprint will be moderating in future quarters, so that will be a positive. Stock comp -- we have cycled that now, so that too should be a positive. Then the key factor will be where business trends go. It is just a little early in the year to really speculate on where margins will go. We will just have to see how the revenue trends play out for the remainder of the year. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO Lisa, just a final comment on the UK. We mentioned the classified categories, but the other area we have seen a slight improvement in would be in real estate, specifically in the South London area. You combine those and it gives us a little better feel for where we are going. We don't want to get ahead of it, but for the first time, it is more positive than we have been seeing. Paul Ginocchio - Deutsche Bank - Analyst Quick question for you, Craig. I guess the industry is coming together on some national ad issues, to make it an easier [procedure] to buy both in print and online. I'm just wondering if you thought that, if Gannett joined sort of the Yahoo consortium, that sort of united industry effort would be more valuable to Gannett and the industry than sort of two competing projects that sort of divide the industry. Thanks. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO 10
  11. 11. Paul, the quick answer is we have been very specific about where we are headed. With the agreements we have with Tribune and McClatchy specifically, we plan to continue down that road as we look to the future. As we have said with respect to the open ad platform, it is not something we necessarily see as a direct conflict. We would invite all to participate within that, at the same levels and structure as everyone else. We attended a meeting in Dallas earlier in the week, at which this topic was a big discussion. We are going to continue to look at it. The real key is that the industry must get together. But let's see where it goes. There were some very, very positive discussions there. Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers - Analyst A topic that has come up in the past: How much thought have you guys given in recent quarters to a potential IPO of CareerBuilder? Are there any factors that would prevent you from doing an IPO there - you and your partners? And I have a follow-up. Thank you. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Craig, with regard to an IPO at CareerBuilder, we and our partners continue to believe that the current ownership structure at CareerBuilder is working extremely well for all of us and have no current plans for an IPO. That is the sort of thing that could change in the future, but no current plans. Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers - Analyst And also, a subject I know you love, Gracia - dividends. Often investors always end up getting what they want and there has been a lot of pressure over the years to do massive share buybacks. You have done that, particularly in 2004, 2005. [You've been] under increasing pressure more recently to raise your quarterly dividend. I know you don't like the lack of flexibility if you do do that. Have your thoughts changed at all on this subject? Thank you. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO We continue to evaluate all of the options, constantly, as to the uses of our free cash flow. Our dividend is part of that equation. As we have indicated previously, we continue to look for significant examples of companies that have dramatically increased 11
  12. 12. their dividend and seen a long-term, even intermediate to long-term, benefit to their stock price. We are not opposed to it. We just will continue to look at it and look for whatever opportunities make the most sense to deliver shareholder value. Brian Shipman - UBS Warburg - Analyst Gracia, could please quantify if possible the impact of the extra week on EBITDA - for each of the divisions and for the whole company, please? Thank you. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Looking at it from an EPS basis, the extra week probably added in the $0.04 to $0.05 range. Brian Shipman - UBS Warburg - Analyst Okay, thanks, Gracia. That's helpful. Also quickly, is it possible for you to break out how much of “other” was the gain on the Internet divestiture? What specifically was that divestiture? And what the after-tax contribution of that was on EPS, also? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Yes, in the non-operating area, we had two small minority investments. One was in BrassRing and one was in Map Network. Because the terms of those transactions are confidential, I really can't be more specific than that other than to say we saw a gain in the non-operating area last year that actually pretty much offset that. Where we also picked up in the non-operating area was in the absence of the minority interest expense on the Texas-New Mexico Partnership. That was a plus. Also, some of our Internet investments, including CareerBuilder and Classified Ventures, reported better results than they did in the fourth quarter of last year. That was a positive on that line as well. Brian Shipman - UBS Warburg - Analyst Is it fair to say that the gain on that divestiture did not impact EPS, then? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO 12
  13. 13. If you look at it year-over-year, it was pretty well washed out by the gain we received last year. On a year-over-year basis, there would not have been an impact from that specific item against last year. Alexia Quadrani - Bear Stearns - Analyst A couple of questions. First, I guess against the backdrop of what appears to be a generally healthy economic outlook and continuation of good job growth, could you give us some color on why you think the help wanted ad category is under so much pressure, with the print continuing to decline and even the online growth moderating a bit? Then I have a follow-up. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO With regard to help wanted under pressure: In great measure, at least here at Gannett, the cyclical factors at play are even more important than some of the secular issues that perhaps other, larger markets may be seeing a little bit more heavily than we are. We are seeing a significant slowdown in real estate advertising in the areas in the South, Florida, and in the West. As you can imagine, in those economies where real estate and construction spending have been significant, a slowdown and a lack of housing permits is going to cause a slowdown in employment as well. We have commented previously on some of our manufacturing-based economies. We all know that while the overall economy may be fine, when you look at the auto sector in this country, I would not say that was a particularly fine area. Some of our markets are experiencing some of the impact of that. Then, we have other markets where employment classified is growing. To us it is much more a factor of the underlying local economy, rather than a significant push from the print side into the online side, at least from what we can see. There is some migration, though, no question. Alexia Quadrani - Bear Stearns - Analyst Then, I apologize if I missed it; but did you comment on whether or not there was also a positive turn in profitability growth in Newsquest in December? Last question is just on the share buyback activity, which was a bit more moderate in '06 than '05. If we're looking for a run rate for '07, should we assume roughly the same level you saw in '06? 13
  14. 14. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Let me start with the Newsquest question. They haven't reached year-over-year profitability yet, but I know Paul Davidson and his team are working very hard at achieving that. We will definitely keep you posted as soon as we get all the good news out of the UK. As to share buybacks, you know it is hard for us to comment on a run rate because we are opportunistic buyers. You can appreciate in the fourth quarter - when we have some not inconsequential potential acquisition opportunities that we are looking at - we tend to step out of the market, so as not to step on ourselves. I can't really give you a good guidance on the share repurchase side, because that will be a function of the opportunities we look at on the acquisition side and other investment opportunities as they come up. Alexia Quadrani - Bear Stearns - Analyst Okay, fair enough. Thank you very much. Lauren Fine - Merrill Lynch - Analyst Just following up on that last question, if you could just talk about -- I don't know if you can do it broadly -- what kind of acquisition opportunities are you seeing? Are you referring to some of the obvious ones like Tribune? Or are there some other categories of investments you're looking at? Then I have some follow-up questions after that. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO Very briefly, what we typically do - and this is no different from what we have done in the past - we look at some things on our core side, which includes both newspapers as well as television. And there are other opportunities relating directly to digital that are in front of us. I would say again it is not restricted in any way. We are opportunistic buyers. We want to be in a position at anytime, on any platform, to have the most synergistic effect for the company. We have been very consistent in that over the years and really, with the big addition of digital, plan to continue that as we go into the future. It makes good economic sense for the company. Lauren Fine - Merrill Lynch - Analyst 14
  15. 15. Thanks. Two small questions, then a follow-up after that. I am wondering if you can tell us on newspaper side what ad revenues look like excluding foreign exchange. Because I think that was not in the release as it typically has been. And also, if you have a comment on why the D&A was higher than it had been the first few quarters of the year on the broadcast side, if that was just due to the acquisitions or if there was something else (multiple speakers). Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Jeff, will have to get back to you with some of the constant currency numbers. Because of all of the ex-53rd week numbers we didn't want to confuse it even further. Jeff will get back to you with those numbers after the call. As to the increase in D&A in broadcast, you're absolutely right, it is associated with those new acquisitions. Lauren Fine - Merrill Lynch - Analyst Okay. Then I guess last question, do you have kind of any response or sense of the Abitibi-Bowater deal and what that might mean in terms of the direction of newsprint? Whether it's something you plan to fight either directly or through the NAA, or anything of that nature? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO We are going to monitor the situation carefully. We understand that the Canadian competition commission is going to be looking into it. I would suspect that it is possible that the DOJ here will also take a peek at it. Our industry has consolidated and done some of its rollups, and as we have done various activities on the newsprint front in terms of web-width reductions and light- weight newsprint and other initiatives, so we are not surprised that on the newsprint front, those companies would look at consolidation, too. We will just have to see how it plays out and what comes of the regulatory side of it. Lauren Fine - Merrill Lynch - Analyst Okay, and I just want to sneak one last one in. I seem to recall in the first quarter of '06, there was a gain from Cincinnati. I am wondering if you could quantify that. I don't remember if you had in the past. 15
  16. 16. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO We didn't quantify that, but I think we did indicate it was in the millions of dollars, not in the $20 million or $30 million range. Steven Barlow - Prudential Equity Group - Analyst I wonder if you can comment on the potential effects of the Kennedy direct-to- consumer bill that has been floating on up there. Any kind of size of the impact? I presume you would be opposing such a thing on the lobbying side. But how would it impact TV, which I think would be greater than newspapers. Overall impact and your thoughts? Thanks. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO You know, Steve, I think it is a little too early for us to be able to quantify the impact. We're just going to have to watch and see how this all plays out. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO Yes, very specifically, that is all we can do at this point. We are keeping our eyes on it. All I can say is stay tuned at this point. Steven Barlow - Prudential Equity Group - Analyst Then did you talk about why December TV revenues were down? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO No, we didn't mention that specifically. Steven Barlow - Prudential Equity Group - Analyst Any thoughts then? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO Typically after any major election, there is some softness in some of key areas right after the election. Retail itself actually did fairly well for us. Auto came back a bit in December, probably a bit more on the foreign, if I am correct. I would have to pull that and we can get back to you specifically on that Steve. 16
  17. 17. That is probably about it. It just softened as we got further into the month. John Janedis - Wachovia - Analyst You have been pretty aggressive on rates at USA TODAY. I am wondering what increases you have budgeted for in '07. And Gracia, maybe what categories are slowing now versus December? Thanks. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO As Craig Moon mentioned in December, we are looking at a 6% ad rate increase. My understanding from Craig is that it is being met with no resistance. They see clearly the value of the USA TODAY brand and that it continues to be a good value, even with that kind of an increase. As to slowing categories, we are seeing a little bit of softening on the auto side and in the tech area, and also maybe in travel. But again, I will reiterate that January is our smallest month of the year. We don't really look to January as being indicative of trends going forward. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO You might even note, as we went through last year -- and I think Craig even commented to this -- January being the softest month. It continually builds through the course of the year, with the last two months being the best for the finish that we have had. So this isn't surprising to us. Michael Kupinski - A.G. Edwards - Analyst Most of my questions have been answered. I just have a couple of quick things. Gracia, you mentioned the shares outstanding at the end of the quarter. Was that the actual shares, fully -- actual shares? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Yes, that was basic. Michael Kupinski - A.G. Edwards - Analyst That was basic? Okay. As of December 31? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO 17
  18. 18. As of the end of December. Michael Kupinski - A.G. Edwards - Analyst Okay, great. Can you provide us an update on the newsprint expense comparable in the first quarter? What percentage it is going to be up in the first quarter? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Yes, I think that we are looking at newsprint up in the mid single digits from a price perspective, as I'm recalling. Michael Kupinski - A.G. Edwards - Analyst Okay. In terms of USA TODAY being a little stronger in national, could you talk a little bit about the categories that were strong in that quarter? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO In December? Michael Kupinski - A.G. Edwards - Analyst In December. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Virtually everything. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO Entertainment was very strong. Travel did well. Retail, telecom, pharmaceutical, home and building was very strong. They had very good results in real estate. You know, almost across the board, they had most positive success. That is just an outstanding finish to the year. Craig, and his team have just done an excellent job there. Michael Kupinski - A.G. Edwards - Analyst I guess looking at the numbers, would you say that would be like the broadest strength at USA TODAY that you have seen, in terms of categories, for the whole year? 18
  19. 19. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO Oh, absolutely, without doubt. As Craig had mentioned in December, there had been a build all year; and the last two months were really quite extraordinary with December really capping it off. He had just wonderful results across the board in each of the categories that I had mentioned. Michael Kupinski - A.G. Edwards - Analyst January aside, you don't have any thoughts on how February is looking, in terms of any of those particular categories kind of bouncing back a little bit? Or seeing any pacings or any bookings or anything like that, that would give you any indication that things are kind of getting a little bit better outside of January? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO It is a little too early. Our general sense is, as we were chatting with Craig Moon the other day, is that January and February seem a little softer. Also as you may recall, we would have had the Olympic money last year, which benefits USA TODAY as well. But March seems like there is a little bit of light there, but it's just a little too early to tell. What he has been hearing -- and Roger Ogden as well on the broadcast side -- is that the budgets are there. The budgets are there for print as well as broadcast. But I think folks have, after quite the large spend in December, have come out of the chutes a little bit more cautious. The budgets are there. We will just have to see how they spend over each of the individual months. Michael Kupinski - A.G. Edwards - Analyst Can you remind me how much Olympic money you might have had last year? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO I think it was what, 22? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO In broadcast. On the USA TODAY side, it was in the single millions. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO 19
  20. 20. A final thing I would say, we just attended in the past couple of weeks, meetings in New York with some of the larger foreign automakers. It would appear, with the volume of units that are necessary to move this year, that they will continue to be thinking aggressively as we go forward. That is specifically in the foreign area. Debra Schwartz - Credit Suisse - Analyst Just had a quick question on the UK. When you talk about declines in classified moderating, are you referring mostly to the improvement that you're seeing in real estate? Or are you seeing moderating declines in help wanted and auto as well? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO We are speaking specifically about auto and help wanted as well. Actually real estate continued to be fairly okay throughout virtually all of this period. Where we really saw the dips was on the employment side, particularly in the public sector employment; and then on the auto side, where they were going through a lot of consolidations in that area. We are heartened to see some of the moderation in declines in employment and auto. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO On the real estate, last year, the northeast part of the country was the one showing a little better results in real estate. Now added to that, they are reporting that South London also has picked up. That would be the only change. Debra Schwartz - Credit Suisse - Analyst Okay, thanks. Then just a quick question on digital. I think you gave the growth rate for the quarter, but I was wondering, can you tell us how much revenue you did from online in both newspapers and TV? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO We don't break out the digital revenues. We report on a total number. Newspapers are the lion's share of it. Our television stations, though, have been doing a very strong job. They had about a 50% increase in digital, just not off the kind of base that our other businesses are looking at. Dave Lewis - JPMorgan - Analyst 20
  21. 21. A quick question on the financial networks, the online inventories, the 10% figure. Can you just give a little color on how that was negotiated? Related to that, I guess, are you guys selling out online across USA TODAY, community papers and the non cost site ads? Thank you. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO I can't verify the inventory percentage, but clearly it represents our thought process among all three of us. Dave Lewis - JPMorgan - Analyst In terms of online, non classified portion – display - are you guys selling out? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO We are seen very strong increases in non-classified on the online side. Our non- classified online revenue was up about 75% in the fourth quarter. We are seeing some strong growth there. Whether we are sold out or not really varies market by market. Peter Appert - Goldman Sachs - Analyst Gracia, this 0.7%, 0.8% cost increase in the fourth quarter is pretty impressive. Do you think that is a good benchmark for '07? Basically, can you keep the cost growth below 1% do you think in aggregate in '07? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO You know, we are going to do as good a job as we can on the cost side. We have proven that we're very focused on making sure the cost side is reflective of the revenue opportunity we have out there. We are going to get some help from newsprint. We have a number of initiatives, the Centers of Excellence on the circulation side, some regional toning centers, and some other projects that will come into play and be rolled in over the course of the year. We will try hard to do that kind of a job. But I can't at this point speculate as to whether we will be successful quarter in, quarter out, in keeping it under that number. Peter Appert - Goldman Sachs - Analyst Okay. You mentioned $15 million, I think it was, in severance expense in the fourth quarter. 21
  22. 22. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Right. Peter Appert - Goldman Sachs - Analyst Can you tell us what the full-year number was? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO It easily would have been in excess of probably $20 million. In the UK, they had several million dollars of what they call redundancy costs or severance costs. So, it’s in that $20 million plus range. Peter Appert - Goldman Sachs - Analyst And I'm sure you don't plan this out necessarily in great detail, but do you have a sort of a run rate number that we should be anticipating in '07 as well? Or is there some earnings benefit associated with the elimination of that expense next year? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Clearly, there will be some earnings benefit associated with it. That is the point of doing it. Peter Appert - Goldman Sachs - Analyst I meant more in terms of just the elimination of severance expense next year versus this year. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Sitting here today, we don't anticipate our severance costs or buyout costs or consolidation costs will be at that level in 2007. We are constantly looking at restructuring various operations, and consolidations and the like. We will just have to report on that as things come up. I don't anticipate that level at this point. William Bird - Citigroup - Analyst Yes, I was wondering if you could comment on the quarterly progression in U.S. newspaper print-only ad revenues. 22
  23. 23. Second, I was wondering if you could give us just the total figure for '06 online revenues. Thanks. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO I will start with the last question first, on the online revenues in total for the company. It was over $400 million for 2006. As to the progression of print-only, I will have to have Jeff get back to you, Bill, with that detail. I just don't have it in front of me split out that way. Jim Goss - Barrington Research - Analyst Gracia, earlier, I think Lauren brought up the Abitibi-Bowater issue. I was wondering, I know you're the largest buyer of newsprint, and you are the individual, in particular, who deals in that area. If you looked at the competitive and pricing dynamics out several years, logically that industry will respond to what you have been doing. Do you just wind up at a stalemate and some of the cyclical elements continue beyond this year or next year, but on that basis? Or is there some other way you are looking at that whole issue? Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO You know, Jim, it is really difficult to look out that distance. My suspicion is we will continue to see some of the cyclical ebb and flow that we have always seen on the newsprint side. I would certainly hope that with the consolidation going on in the newsprint industry that they would achieve the kinds of cost benefits they are trying to achieve. And therefore their cost structure will enable them to be competitive from a pricing perspective. But it is just much too soon to try to speculate on where things are going to be in five years. I would also say that I must give total credit to the folks who run our Gannett Supply operation, because they are really the ones that drive it. I give them a hard time from time to time; but they are really the ones that drive the great results that we get in that area. Jim Goss - Barrington Research - Analyst Okay. One separate issue, Craig, I know you have been very aggressive in trying to implement this change in the corporate culture. I wonder if you could comment a little on just wrapping this up, and on how that is going so far; whether you're getting people 23
  24. 24. onboard with it; if there are a lot of road blocks in the way. Or will they realistically achieve some results within a noticeable time frame? Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO Jim, I have to tell you quite honestly, I'm more than pleased with the results. I think Sue Clark-Johnson has done an absolutely extraordinary job on the implementation of the Information Center. Are there speed bumps? Of course there are. But I would say for a company this size, moving as rapidly as we are, we will have all of the newspapers converted by May. My guess is, from what I am told through Sue's group, is that a lot of this can be completed by the end of the first quarter. So yes, it is moving along very rapidly. The other key area that I think we have had some very, very solid results is with Roger Ogden on our design and innovation area. We have a number of projects that are beginning to show light for us. We will have some new businesses in this next year that will make some real sense in where we are going. I can say that innovation can only work when you have the proper diversity and balance within your communities. In fact, just last evening, we had a major kickoff meeting with the leadership and diversity group that will really bring both these other elements of the strategic plan together. I have a very good feeling about where we are today. We have got a big hill to climb. We have got a large company to convert. But I am convinced the employees are behind this. They understand the importance and we are going to make it happen. Thanks for the question. Operator That will conclude today's question-and-answer session. I would like to turn the conference back to your presenters for any additional or closing remarks. Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - EVP, CFO Thanks very much to all for joining us. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call Jeff at 703-854-6917 or me at 6918. Have a great day. Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President, CEO 24
  25. 25. Thank you. Operator This does conclude today's conference call. We thank you for your participation. You may disconnect at this time. 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. 25