UPDATE 2-Political ads, digital pay model boost Gannett results
* Adj EPS 89 cents vs Street estimate 88 cents
* TV revenue up 46 pct, circulation revenue rises 24 pct
Feb 4 (Reuters) - Gannett Co Inc reported a better-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter revenue on strong advertising sales at its television stations and as subscribers paid more for its newspapers.
Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the United States, on Monday reported revenue of $1.52 billion versus $1.38 billion in the year-earlier period, and topped analysts' expectations of $1.49 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Part of the increase in revenue had to do with an extra week in the quarter, compared to the same period last year.
Still, the company benefited from political advertising at its local TV stations and from its digital pay model it has rolled out at its newspapers.
"Overall I would call it an in-line quarter, with very encouraging results," said Edward Atorino an analyst with Benchmark Co.
Like many newspapers, Gannett is getting more of its readers to pay for news to help defray a severe loss in advertising revenue. It started charging readers to gain access to some of its content online, a trend that is now commonplace among newspapers.
At its U.S. newspapers that include The Arizona Republic and The Des Moines Register, circulation revenue jumped 24 percent, including contributions from digital.
The industry has suffered through several years of punishing advertising declines, with no reversal in sight.
Gannett said publishing ad revenue fell 5.6 percent in October, 7.4 percent in November and 6.7 percent in December.
At its TV stations, revenue climbed 46 percent to $280.2 million because of an influx of $91.2 million in political advertising.
Net income totaled $103 million, or 44 cents per share, compared with $116 million, or 49 cents per share for the same period last year.
Excluding special items, earnings came to 89 cents per share compared with 72 cents in the same period last year. Analysts were expecting EPS of 88 cents per share.