Ads Returning to Dow Jones

Newspaper publisher Dow Jones ( DJ) said Friday that it's comfortable with first-quarter earnings guidance, thanks to strength in advertising this month.

The New York-based company, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, said previously that it expects first-quarter profit before special items to be in the "mid-to-upper teens cents per share range," compared with a profit of 12 cents per share in the same period a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expect 20 cents a share.

Dow said the results will be driven by a pickup in advertising linage in March. Gains at the Journal's U.S. edition are expected to be in the "upper teens" due to two extra publishing days and easier comparisons to last March, when the war with Iraq depressed advertising. This would bring first-quarter linage at the Journal to a mid-single-digit increase, which Chief Operating Officer Rich Zannino said is within the range of previous guidance.

In February, ad linage at the Journal fell 1.7% amid a decline in auto and professional services advertising. This was offset partially by increases in retail, insurance, corporate and travel advertising. The technology category was also strong due to increases in advertising for computer hardware and PCs, but B2B and communications declined. The firm also noted that financial advertising jumped 47.4% last month.

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