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(April 17, 2001) -- Gannett Co.'s first-quarter profits were depressed by an advertising slowdown, but unlike many of its newspaper brethen -- The New York Times Co. and Dow Jones & Co. among them -- it eked out a quarter in which it met earnings expectations without having previously lowered estimates.

First-quarter profits were $174.5 million, or 66 cents per share. The company had said last month it expected earnings in the range of 66 cents to 68 cents per share, while analysts' consensus was 67 cents per share. Those profits were off 14% from first-quarter 2000.Gannett said the ad slowdown hit flagship USA Today especially hard, resulting in a 20% decline in ad revenues for the national daily.

Gannett publishes 98 other newspapers. Three major deals brought over 20 newspapers into the company last year. If Gannett's portfolio of assets were the same in 2000 and 2001, overall revenues would have declined 3% from last year's first quarter. -- Jon Fine

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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