SACRAMENTO (AP) _ Newspaper publisher McClatchy Co. reported first-quarter earnings on Thursday of $23.3 million, or 51 cents per share, up from $10.5 million, or 23 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The Sacramento-based company cited lower newsprint costs and an improved advertising market in February and March, as well as a change in accounting rules that boosted the company's earnings.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had predicted 49 cents per share in the first quarter for McClatchy, whose flagship newspaper is The Sacramento Bee.

First-quarter revenue dropped 4.2 percent to $252.6 million, from $263.7 million in 2001. Advertising revenues were down 4.3 percent at $202.2 million and circulation revenue dropped 3.3 percent to $41.1 million.

McClatchy chairman and CEO Gary Pruitt said he expect second-quarter earnings to be between 70 cents and 72 cents per share. Analysts expect 68 cents.

McClatchy is headquartered in Sacramento and publishes 11 daily and 13 non-daily newspapers in California, Minnesota, the Carolinas and the Pacific Northwest. It also owns and operates Nando Media, an Internet publishing unit, and The Newspaper Network, an advertising insert distributor.

Its newspapers include the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, The Fresno Bee, The Modesto Bee, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., and the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska.

McClatchy's stock was up $1.63 to $59.11 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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On the Net:

Company Web site: www.mcclatchy.com