Monday, April 18, 2005

Newspapering by the numbers

Stock prices are only one measure of a newspaper company's performance. Other barometers include its level of profitability; its annual sales growth and its year-to-year increase in profitability.

The table below summarizes key operating statistics for 2004 of the eight largest publicly held newspaper companies. Highlights among the rankings:

:: Net profits last year averaged 10.7%, with Gannett, McClatchy and Knight-Ridder surpassing the average and the rest of the companies falling below it. Gannett was, by far, the most profitable with a net of 17.8%. Half of the companies were unable to produce double-digit profits.

:: Sales of the companies rose an average 6.53% in the 12 months, with the Washington Post, Gannett and Dow Jones beating the average. Sales of three of the largest publishers -- New York Times, Tribune and Dow Jones -- each grew by less than 2.5%.

:: Net profits on average fell 2.18% between 2003 and 2004, but the performance ranged widely. Profits at the Washington Post increased by 38.3% from the prior year, while earnings skidded 36.9% at Tribune and 41.5% at Dow Jones.


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