DALLAS (AP) _ Newspaper operator A.H. Belo Corp. said Monday it lost $8.7 million in the first quarter as revenue fell from a year ago, and the company warned that the sales decline would likely continue throughout 2008 because of a weak economy.

Chairman and Chief Executive Robert W. Decherd said the company was "navigating through a challenging operating environment," but he expressed confidence it could compete in a more Internet-centered world.

It was the first quarterly financial report for A.H. Belo, which owns The Dallas Morning News and three other daily newspapers, since being spun off from broadcast company Belo Corp. this year.

The company warned investors a week ago that results would be below the expectations set Jan. 31 and that it was considering "every sensible expense reduction."

The Dallas-based company said Monday that the loss equaled 43 cents per share, compared with a loss of $9.4 million, or 46 cents per share, a year ago by the newspapers when they were still part of Belo.

Revenue fell 8.8 percent, to $160.2 million, and advertising sales at the newspapers and their Web sites dropped 12 percent.

The Dallas paper accounts for about two-thirds of the company's revenue. It also has papers in Denton, Texas; Providence, R.I.; and Riverside, Calif., which has been hit hard by a real estate downturn.

Advertising revenue fell 25.6 percent in Riverside, 10.7 percent in Providence, and 8.7 percent in Dallas, Decherd told analysts.

Newspapers around the country are losing readers and advertising dollars along with them to the Internet, and A.H. Belo lost more as a percentage than any other of the top 25 publishers.

Circulation at the Dallas paper fell to 368,313 in the six months ended March 31, a 10.6 percent decline, according to figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

A.H. Belo said, however, that circulation revenue in Dallas rose 12 percent from early 2007.

The company added that it was pulling back from less-profitable areas with circulation cuts and would reduce the width of its papers to reduce newsprint expenses.

Shares rose 6 cents to close at $10.21 Monday.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.