Gannett Co Inc, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, reported a lower quarterly profit on Monday and revenue fell because of a 28 percent drop in publishing advertising sales.

Gannett, publisher of USA Today, posted third-quarter net income of $73.8 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with $158.1 million, or 69 cents a share, last year.

Profit excluding items was 44 cents a share, ahead of the average analyst estimate of 41 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S/.

Revenue fell 18 percent to $1.33 billion, in line with analysts' estimates, according to I/B/E/S/.

Gannett's profit reflects tough cost cuts over the past year, from furloughing and laying off workers, to slashing pay. Similar moves at other publishers, such as McClatchy Co, which reported results last week, have helped them beat Wall Street forecasts.

(Reporting by Robert MacMillan, editing by Dave Zimmerman)