Gannett Co said it expected to report stronger fourth-quarter earnings and indicated its digital and local newspapers were due to benefit from improved advertising in early 2011.

Shares of the company rose more than 5 percent.

Chief Operating Officer Gracia Martore, speaking at the UBS Media and Communications Conference, said she was comfortable that the company would post earnings at the high end of a range of 72 cents to 82 cents per share in the quarter.

In the period a year ago, Gannett, which owns the newspaper USA Today among other assets, reported earnings of 72 cents a share. This time around, analysts, on average, expect the company to post earnings of 77 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Gannett executives also said they were optimistic about TV advertising in 2011, citing healthier auto advertising. They also sounded an upbeat note about its local newspaper advertising, saying trends are improving at the local level in many segments.

Gannett shares were up 5.2 percent at $16.11 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba and Paul Thomasch, editing by Dave Zimmerman)