Does anyone remember Gannett (GCI)? The recent buyout and anticipated break-up of Knight-Ridder (KRI) has keep its larger counterpart out of the news. Its stock has done poorly lately along with the balance of the public companies in the newspaper business.
Gannett has some important advantages over other companies in this industry, its size and the ownership of USA Today being the most obvious. But, scratch the surface, and one of the things you find is that Gannett is one of the largest players in the internet content business.
Gannett's online revenue grew 56% in 2005 on top of 60% in 2004. Gannett's internet audience for its combined online properties was 21 million unique visitors in December 2005, which is almost 14% of the entire internet audience according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Gannett also owns large pieces of the online sites CareerBuilder and Classified Ventures.
For 2005, total revenue for Gannett grew just over 4% to $7.6 billion. Net income dropped 5.5% to $1.244 billion. The newspaper and television station businesses just aren't what they used to be in large part because of the internet.
Gannett has the opportunity, content, and capital to build its online operations and enjoy some of the valuation benefits of being viewed as an internet powerhouse. Whether management will pursue this is still an open question. But, putting capital into a business that grows 50% to 60% a year seems like a prudent investment. And, maybe a path to saying goodbye to the low stock price.
Douglas A. McIntyre is the former Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Financial World Magazine. He was also the president of Switchboard.com when it was the 10th most visited site on the internet, according to MediaMetrix. He has also been chief executive of FutureSource LLC and On2 Technologies, Inc. He does not own securities in the companies he writes about.