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Dow Jones sees no sustainable advertising recovery

NEW YORK - Dow Jones and Co has raised its fourth-quarter earnings forecast, but said that it sees no sustainable recovery in the advertising market at its flagship newspaper The Wall Street Journal.

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Dow Jones calculated fourth-quarter earnings before exceptional items of around 25 cents a share. This is up from the previous forecast of between 15 to 20 cents a share, compared with 34 cents a share a year earlier.

The new forecast beats analyst expectations, which came in at between 15 and 19 cents a share.

For the quarter, Dow Jones said it plans to take $22m (£14m), or 17 cents a share, in charges for items including recent workforce cuts and a lease write-off.

The financial news group said that advertising on The Wall Street Journal, is predicted to continue falling. It said it expects the drop to be in the low double digits. It said that advertising volume at the WSJ fell 4.5% in November, which compares well with last year, when it recorded a drop of 45.2%.

Dow Jones chairman and CEO Peter R Kann said: "While we are pleased with our November advertising results and improved outlook for the fourth quarter, we don't yet have visibility to a sustainable ad recovery."

He added: "Meantime, we continue to aggressively control everything we can to capitalise on an improved business environment when it arrives."

On a more positive note, the company reported the first rise in ad volume on a per-issue basis since October 2000, with November rising 0.3%. In the year-to-date total, ad volume fell 18% compared with the much bigger fall in 2001 of 37.8%. Overall, November was down 11.8%.

The company was hardest hit by continuing falls in financial sector advertising, which was down 24.8% in November, although it was boosted by a 26.1% rise in technology advertising in the same month.

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