On today's news of a 36 percent plunge in second quarter profit, shares of Virginia-based Gannett Co. tumbled 12 percent in morning trading, or $2.10, to $15.25 -- the lowest level in 23 years. The USA Today publisher, which also owns The Daily Advertiser, The Times of Acadiana and the Quik Quarter, has lost almost 70 percent of its value in the last 12 months. A year ago its stock was trading at more than $52.

According to its preliminary earnings report, second quarter net income fell to $233 million, or $1.02 per share, from $366 million, or $1.56 per share in the comparable quarter last year.

Slumping newspaper advertising  was the biggest factor in total revenue declining more than 10 percent to $1.72 billion. Publishing advertising dipped 14 percent to $1.1 billion, and of that, retail advertising fell 8 percent, and classified advertising dropped 19 percent. Flagship USA Today's advertising revenue dropped 17 percent.

So far this year, Gannett has earned $424.5 million, or $1.85 per share -- down 26 percent from the first half of 2007, when it earned $576.2 million, or $2.45 per share.

For more on Gannett's financial woes, visit Gannett Blog.

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