SYDNEY - Media companies hit by declining advertising spending this year are expected to follow the lead of publishing giant John Fairfax Holdings, which last week announced a profit downgrade.

Fairfax shares had their biggest fall since January, dropping nine cents (2.36%) to $3.73, as ceo David Kirk predicted flat earnings before interest and tax of between A$420 million ($316.13m; €244.06m; £168.28m) and A$430 million this fiscal year.

The target is below market expectations and compares with $425.8 million a year ago. Kirk blamed a poor advertising market in Fairfax's retail, real estate and employment classifieds.