Thursday, June 21, 2012

I'm live-blogging today's presentation to analysts

CEO Gracia Martore will lead Corporate's 12:45 p.m. ET presentation to Wall Street analysts on current initiatives and the earnings outlook during a conference sponsored by the Media and Entertainment Analysts of New York. The call is being webcast; how to listen in.

2:17 GCI now trading up 2% at $13.31. And here's Corporate's statement on its presentation.

2:14 The conference is now over.

2:14 Digital as a percentage of total revenue? Martore: Now at 21%. Expect it would be "significantly north of that" by 2015. Could be 30-40% -- or even more.

2:10 What's head counts in broadcasting and publishing by year end> Up? Down? Martore: On broadcasting, it will be up. Dickey: GPS headcount will be down, but investing in newsrooms; that's a pretty vague response. Martore: Year-over-year total full-time employment could be up "slightly." That would be a first in many years.

2:07 Financial impact of real estate sales? Martore: "It's a constantly revolving thing." Have a $20 million-plus property sale out there. (Not sure whether that's a signed deal, or property that's being offered.) Have $100 million worth of property on the market. At Crystal Palace in McLean, Va.: Leasing out 100,000 square feet. "We're always looking at that building." "Expect potential actions over the next six months."

2:06 Martore: Expect to spend $65 million on strategic initiatives investments this year. But will see GCI do the same job on expense front -- meaning holding or cutting costs.

2:04 Do you ever see print advertising turn up? Martore: We don't bifurcate it as print or digital. "We look at it as finding solutions for customers." Expect growth overall up to 2% in publishing sector by 2015. That's total publishing segment, including Newsquest and USAT.

2:03 Question: How do you avoid data overload on customers with new paywalls as carriers start gouging individual consumers? Lougee says they won't be "pushing" content, preserving consumer choice.

1:59 No pop in GCI's stock after Q2 earnings affirmation: Shares still trading at $13, down 5 cents. But overall market is way down.

1:56 I'll say this: Martore sounds like she's having a lot more fun than her predecessor. She's making lots of ad-libbed jokes, for one thing.

1:54 Martore is back. Finally: "We are comfortable with First Call's consensus on current quarter earnings. Now, to questions; sounds like there won't be many because of little time remaining.

1:49 Contested Congressional races will be a plus for TV stations. A "significant tale wind" for third and fourth quarter. Also: Olympics, which is once more being broadcast by NBC. GCI is largest distributor of NBC outside of the network itself.

1:48 GCI shares are now mostly flat at about $13, even as Dow Jones dives 163 points.

1:45 Martore is back. Expect total company-wide digital revenues up in 13% range in the current quarter. Broadcasting once more doing well.

1:44 Midwest and West Groups leading the newspaper division. All four groups have improved year-over-year trends. But South Group is "most challenged."

1:44 Dickey: June trends are "slightly behind" May.

1:42 Total company-wide revenues down "just 2%" in first two months of current quarter. Month of May "roared back" in newspaper ad revenues; best monthly year-over-year comparisons seen since early 2007.

1:40 Martore back on "cost transformation and asset optimization": Gannett Publishing Services. $60 million in savings under new third-party printing deal signed this morning for Clipper magazines and other publications. Currently have 2.5 million square feet in real estate now on the market. When done, will have reduced own real estate "footprint" 25% since 2005. "No stone is being left unturned when it comes to all our assets across the company."

1:37 Here's Lougee. (Jeepers: Nothing about current-quarter earnings forecast? Maybe this session goes beyond 1:45?)

1:35 Travel: Under new Hilton deal digital deal, a portal letting guests make restaurant reservations. "This is a month. Wait until you hear me after six months." Great company. "Really stunned by the talent in the place. Just 10 minutes left for Corporate's scheduled presentation. Is there time for questions?

1:32 Sports is a first example of our vertical strategy. Build a presence that isn't "rooted in one form of media. . . . It will be an experience." Sports is perfect for this. "We're hiring much more pronounced voices. . . . It's more forward-looking. It crosses all media platforms."

1:30 "Fantastic new print product" in USAT, "major change," by September 30th anniversary. "Really exciting presentation of ads on digital platforms. Advertisers are just like them, trying to tell their stories on digital platforms.

1:29 In print, you'll see much difference in USAT. A lot more "pronounced voices. . . . More interesting takes. . . . You'll recognize our writers and our writing. . . . Better a graphics, better at color photographs, better at presentation."

1:24 Here's Kramer. Leverage 5,000 GCI journalists in print and TV. Building a newsroom of the future at headquarters in Virginia. "This is going to be a really interesting news play." Oops: his cellphone is ringing!

1:24 Martore says is relaunching next week as USA Today Sports (?). Committed to giving USAT renewed relevance. Reimagine and strengthen USAT brand.

1:23 New CFO's full name is Victoria Harker, from AES Corp.

1:19 New mobile version of DealChicken now accounts to 25%-30% of sales. Many new customers as a result. "We've been very, very happy."

1:14 Here's Williams. GCI shares now trading at $13, unchanged.

1:12 Martore's back, and praising DealChicken -- first public reference I've heard to GCI's daily deal site in months.

1:10 To date, have hired more than 60 journalists. Could hire as many as 240.

1:07 Each newspaper newsroom had to identify key passion topics as part of paywalls. "To date we're off to a very good start. We have added new content at all sites that have rolled out. . . . Our foundation is investigative reporting. . . . Our commitment hasn't wavered there."

1:02 Here's Dickey, giving an overview on newspaper paywalls. Now in half of GCI markets. At six initial markets, sustaining trend month to month. Now have more than 12,000 digital-only subscribers. They're bringing a younger, very affluent demographic.

1:00 Under paywall, 25% to 30% increase for newspaper subscribers. Expect total subscription revenue to grow approximately 25% once all markets are rolled out early next year. Expect to add to operating profit $100 million in 2013.

12:59 She feels validated by investor Warren Buffett, who has been on a mini buying spree of newspapers. "We too believe in local. We were in local before local was in. Great content is the key to success to any newspaper franchise. . . . But the digital era demands more."

12:55 Key to success is relevant news and information where, when and how they want it. "That's exactly what our company is doing." She reiterates: Returning more than $1.3 billion to shareholders by 2015.

12:54 "Iconic brands" that resonate with communities: USAT, CareerBuilder.

12:51 Kramer has a great digital background. "We're delighted he's part of the team." Announces a new chief financial officer: Victoria ________. (I didn't get her last name.) That was an awfully fast replacement for Paul Saleh, who recently resigned to join another, bigger company.

12:48 CEO Gracia Martore is speaking; she notes that it's a hot day in New York, and encourages people to remove their jackets. She's making introductions, including Chairman Marge Magner. Also: Bob Dickey; Dave Lougee; Jack Williams; David Payne.

12:47 Sounds like people are finishing their lunch; I hear dishes being moved about. New USA Today Publisher Larry Kramer is in attendance.

12:44 Gannett's stock recently traded for $13 a share, down 5 cents.

12:30 p.m. We're waiting for the conference to start.


  1. Ouch, Scooped again!!!

  2. Looks like they don't like what they're hearing as the stock continues to sink.

  3. So where is Maryam Banikarim and Chairman David L. Hunke? Oh, that's right. I forgot they were living it up in Cannes this week.

  4. Gosh, after how many months we now have a whole 12,000 digital onyl subscribers? And just exactly how do you know their younger and more affluent, Dickey? Younger and more affluent than what or whom? Another crock from Dickey.

  5. going to hire an additional 240 new digital savvy journalists!!!!!

  6. It's 1:15 and no new updates since 12:30. What's up

  7. Stock is going up!

  8. Stock is skyrocketing. Gannett is in a hiring frenzy. Ad revenues are through the roof. No more furloughs. Raises and bonuses for all.

  9. New CFO: Victoria Harker, formerly of AES Corp., a "global power company" based in Arlington, where she did six years. Formerly with Verizon/MCI/WorldCom.

  10. Thanks for this Jim. I learned things today that my own company never tells us. Loved the Kramer comments.

  11. Buesse had a dog and pony show Wednesday to unveil the "new" usatoday high
    Still clunky looking and filled with bugs.
    He video conference was of such poor quality you couldn't see what they were trying to show us. The Gannett way.
    Biggest take-away: no new resources will be allocated from corporate to help make this work at a local level.
    This will not work w/out proper staffing, manpower and skills. Why doesn't anybody at corporate understand this?!?
    Soft launch underway. Will soon be mandatory at all Gannett sites. Prepare for page views to plummet as readers reject yet one more gannett fustercluck.
    This could work with proper staffing, planning.
    Wont work at our site, where we have no one to run it.

  12. "I learned things today that my own company never tells us."

    Duh, except it just did.

    The capacity for self-pity among the users of this site: priceless.

  13. For once we hear something positive and the naysayers are still around. I'll take that 5% stock jump and good May ad revenue numbers when the overall markets are down anyday.

  14. 2:13 the company told everyone to tune in to the webcast or watch it later on but I guess you didn;t know that.

  15. I heard that the numbers in Shreveport are tanking. Aren't they part of the Midwest Group or are they still in the South Group?

  16. For once good news from Martore. Now where's that raise you promised us three years ago?

  17. For the first time, younger people are not expected to do as well financially as their parents. The old inverse of status days are gone. Wonder where' he gets this younger, affluent stuff. I work with poor kids who hold masters degrees and can find nothing better than low paying jobs. Met one yesterday who is selling knives door to door. PhD seekers rely on food stamps in this economy. Wish he'd show lthe numbers.

  18. @729 - That check is in the male - no, not a typo. Don't you remember? Happy retirement Craig!

  19. Martore makes it all sound so good. Why do they continue treating employees so badly?

  20. I'd be very suspicious of the spin put on the paywall metrics. I've seen the numbers.

  21. @9:05PM -- We're getting off-topic, but since you raised generational differences, here's one: Previous generations had enough integrity and fortitude that they'd rather die before going on the dole. Before accepting food stamps they would have scraped together every menial form of subsistence possible. The idea that a Ph.D. candidate, rather getting off his duff, would steal aid meant for the poor (let alone the fact our politicians apparently permit it) is obscene and reprehensible.

    As for the others you mention, I'll lay odds their advanced degrees are in utterly useless fields. Or they're unwilling to relocate, or otherwise have ridiculous demands and expectations.

  22. Does anyone actually believe that bullcrap that was spun so well.
    Total revenues down 2%.
    "GPS headcounts will be down"
    No brainer interpretation:Layoffs coming!

  23. Hey 2:30 a.m., could you share actual numbers?
    5:05 p.m.: Which numbers do you mean? Revenue, print circulation, page views? Believe Shreveport is part of the Midwest Group now.

  24. Number of vice presidents will be down as soon as Hunke departs. All the crap he and Hillkirk and Motiff engineered in editorial will be undone, too. We will finally have the right leaders in the right roles. I'm so jacked.

  25. In Shreveport I heard that the revenue numbers ain't doing so well since the reorg in the ad deptartment. Then I read a local political article and throughout the whole thing they said if you want to read more about this check out the KSLA site which is a local television station. It makes me wonder if the community has lost faith in the paper there just like the employees here have.

  26. 9:02 do you really think Hunke is still around and or making any decisions?

  27. Curious as to why David Payne was not presenting. If he did not, that is a very telling sign.

    If Digital is the Future, then how do you have NOT have the head of the future sit out the MEANY event???

    Also, Dickey stated 12,000 pay wall subscribers. Jim you are getting soft, because their plan was to have over 1,500,000 subscribers by now. They lose more print subscribers each month then they have signed up digital pay wall members for the past TWO years!!!

  28. 7:32 a.m. Ummmm ------Welcome to the new normal here in the good ol US of A . If you're a journalist, open your mind up and stop judging others please. Approach your stories with the facts------that there are highly educated folks who are not lazy, but who struggle daily. It's the economy. We're in a mess. Period.


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