The Akron Beacon Journal’s corporate parent company reported a profitable fourth quarter and full year Wednesday.

New Media Investment Group Inc., parent of GateHouse and owner of the Beacon Journal and more than 100 other newspapers and online operations, had fourth-quarter net income of $13.3 million, or 22 cents per share, on revenue of $416 million for the quarter ending Dec. 30. That compares to net income of $26.4 million, or 50 cents per share, on revenue of $394.4 million a year ago.

Fourth-quarter traditional print advertising revenue for properties New Media has owned at least a year fell 15 percent from a year ago, reflecting in part a weak brick-and-mortar store holiday season, the company said.

But digital revenue was up significantly for the quarter and full year, and other GateHouse revenue streams also increased.

Shares sold off in early trading as New Media’s results came in below analyst expectations. At market's close, shares were down 54 cents, or 4 percent, to $13.11.

“2018 was a year of strong progress for New Media,” Michael E. Reed, president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “I am very pleased with the operational execution and the financial results we achieved across many areas of our business.”

A decline in same-store revenue slowed to 5.3 percent in 2018 compared to a 5.9 percent decline in 2017, Reed said.

“We expect continued improvement in that trend in 2019, as we progress toward our goal of same-store revenue growth,” Reed said.

For the full year, New Media had net income of $18.2 million, or 31 cents per share, on revenue of $1.52 billion.That compares to a loss of $915,000, or 2 cents per share, on revenue of $1.34 billion in 2017.

Total digital revenue for the year was $179.2 million, up 25.2 percent from 2017. Circulation revenue totaled $575 million, down 2.2 percent from 2017.

Besides the Akron Beacon Journal, New Media’s GateHouse subsidiary also owns the Repository in Canton, the Columbus Dispatch and other daily and weekly newspapers in Ohio and elsewhere in the United States. GateHouse purchased the Akron Beacon Journal in 2018. As of Dec. 31, New Media/GateHouse had 146 daily newspapers in 37 states.

 

Jim Mackinnon covers business and county government. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ