Two newspaper companies, Knight-Ridder ( KRI) and E.W. Scripps ( SSP), posted modest earnings beats Friday morning.

San Jose, Calif.-based Knight-Ridder earned $253 million, or $3.56 a share, in the third quarter, including a gain of about $208 million related to an asset sale. Stripping out the gain and two other one-time items, the company earned 67 cents a share in the quarter, beating estimates by a penny.

Revenue rose 2% from a year ago to $723.8 million, compared with the $724.4 million Thomson First Call consensus estimate. The company tamped down quarterly expectations in an earnings warning last month.

Knight-Ridder said total advertising revenue rose 3% in the quarter compared with last year. Retail was up 2.2%; national was up 0.9%; classified was up 4.8%; employment advertising was up 16.1%; real estate was up 9.8%; and auto was down 10%.

"While the fundamentals of this quarter were disappointing, we took important steps to position our company for a strong future in both print and online publishing," Knight-Ridder said in a release. "We acquired three newspapers with solid business records and prospects in markets that are growing, and we exited the joint operating arrangement we had with Gannett in Detroit."

Special items also affected Scripps' third quarter. The company reported earnings of $82.2 million, or 50 cents a share, up about 48% from a year ago in part because of a $41 million payment related to a discontinued edition in Alabama. Excluding that and another item, earnings were 38 cents a share, a penny better than forecasts.

Scripps' third-quarter revenue was $594.7 million, about $2 million ahead of estimates.

The company expects to earn 52 cents to 56 cents a share in the fourth quarter, lower than the 59-cent Thomson First Call consensus estimate.

At Shopzilla, the online price aggregator that Scripps bought in June, third-quarter profit was $7.3 million on revenue of $35.2 million, up from $1.2 million and $15.9 million a year ago.

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