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GANNETT BLASTS ANALYSTS STOCK DROPS DESPITE DIVISIONS' RISING REVENUES

By Published on .

NEW YORK-Gannett Co. President-CEO John Curley chided Wall Street analysts for sending the company's stock price down even as revenues are rising.

Speaking at the PaineWebber Media Conference, Mr. Curley said Gannett's revenues will rise 4% to $3.8 billion in 1994, while operating income will rise 15% to $825 million.

"There was good news for every division," he said.

But he blamed analysts for a decline in the company's stock, remarks underscored later that day as the stock dipped 50 cents to $47.25, 20% below its 52-week high.

"Many of you have deep-seated fears newspapers are passe, despite the fact that newspapers continue to draw audiences advertisers covet most," Mr. Curley said.

USA Today ad revenue is expected to rise 6% for the year, while ad pages are projected at 3,850, up 1%. Other Gannett owned newspapers are expected to post a 2% to 3% gain in ad linage. Broadcast ad revenue will rise 5% to 7%, while outdoor ad revenue is expected to increase 2% to 4%

At least one investor blasted back at Gannett for its conservative approach.

"When is Gannett going to become a high growth company again?" asked John Kornreich, director of the Sandler Group, New York, holder of less than a 1% stake in Gannett. "I would ... make a major acquisition that would change the look and persona of the company."

He recommends Gannett acquire a major TV network. Company executives listened, but showed little interest in heeding his advice.

USA Today is itself branching out. Publisher Tom Curley at the conference announced the formation of USA Today Information Network, a 30-person business unit that will explore online opportunities. Its first goal is to upgrade an existing sports online service based in Greensboro, N.C.

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