Publishers' Results Hurt by Attacks

Media groups E.W. Scripps Co. and The New York Times Co. on Tuesday joined a growing number of publishers warning that last week's airplane attacks would further dent advertising, hurting their financial results. 

Other publishers including Dow Jones & Co. Inc., Gannett Co. and Knight Ridder Inc. have lowered or are widely expected to cut their outlooks after the attacks on the New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon exacerbated a decline in advertising caused by the current economic slowdown. 

The New York Times Co. said its September and third quarter would be ``adversely affected'' by the attacks after reporting that pro forma ad revenues for its Newspaper Group slumped 17.8 percent in August. 

A Times Co. spokeswoman said the company could not yet quantify exactly how much it would be affected by the attacks and would likely provide further details in its upcoming third-quarter earnings statement. 

``There is a great deal of uncertainty at the moment. A lot of advertisers have been pulling back on their advertising and that is certainly going to affect us,'' spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said. 

Scripps, a TV and newspaper group which publishes the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, warned that its third-quarter earnings would come in at the low end of its previous estimates of 38 cents to 46 cents a share. It earned 46 cents a share in last year's third quarter. 

``Because of the economic uncertainty following last week's terrorist attacks, and the effect the uncertainty is having on advertising, the company now believes earnings per share will likely fall below the low end of the previously stated guidance for both the third quarter and full year,'' Scripps said. 

Scripps had projected full year earnings per share of between $2.05 and $2.25 compared with $2.20 in 2000. 

The company, said consolidated revenues for August were $115 million, down 1.3 percent on a pro forma basis from the same month a year ago. 

Following last Tuesday's attacks, newspapers increased their news coverage at the expense of ad space as businesses cut their advertising, while television and radio stations went commercial free. 

The New York Times Co. said advertising revenue at its flagship New York Times newspaper fell 20.6 percent in August, hit by weaker demand for technology, media and telecommunications advertising. 

Dow Jones said Monday that the attack on the World Trade Center had increased the risk that its third-quarter earnings could fall short of its previous expectations. 

The publisher of the Wall Street Journal, which was forced to evacuate its headquarters across the street from the World Trade Center, said the decline in ad linage for its flagship newspaper was steeper than expected, a trend that is expected across the newspaper sector as companies cancel ads.