What happened

Shares of Gannett (NYSE: GCI), America's largest newspaper publisher, traded more than 13% lower as of 10:53 a.m. this morning after the company reported earnings results from the first quarter of the year.

So what

Gannett, the publisher of USA Today, reported a net loss of more than $142 million in the first quarter, or a loss of $1.06 per share, on total revenues of $777 million, down from an $80 million loss in the first quarter of 2020 on total revenues of $948 million. Earnings missed analysts' consensus widely, which had Gannett posting a loss of $0.17 per share. Total revenues also came up short.

Line with arrow moving downward.

Image source: Getty Images.

The company did manage to grow paid digital-only subscriptions to 1.2 million, an increase of 37% year over year, which is an important part of Gannett's strategy.

"With the first quarter momentum in both digital-only subscriptions and in our Digital Marketing Solutions segment, we believe we are well positioned to not only meaningfully grow Adjusted EBITDA year over year, but also continue our evolution to a digitally focused content platform," Gannett's CEO Michael Reed said in a statement.

Now what

On one hand, the significant decline in revenues, which the company attributed in part to "general trends adversely impacting the publishing industry" is not good. The traditional publishing industry continues to face challenges.

On the other hand, Gannett has done a lot of work since merging with New Media Investment in 2019 to become the largest newspaper publisher in the country. This work includes refinancing some of its debt and implementing cost synergies, and now the company looks to be pursuing other new avenues for revenue as well.

The company is still saddled with a lot of debt and does face challenges from the industry, but while it's trading at less than $4, I am holding my shares and still think the company has upside.  

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.