Gannett Co. Inc. will begin distributing its new national daily newspaper USA Today in eight more areas in the next four months, but it will be at least 1985 before the paper is profitable, Gannett Chairman Allen H. Neuharth said yesterday.

Neuharth outlined plans for USA Today and presented his annual review of other Gannett ventures at a meeting of the company's executives here.

USA Today was launched in September in the Washington-Baltimore market and, as of late November, reported unaudited circulation of about 860,000 in those cities plus Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle and San Francisco.

In addition to the eight new markets targeted for early 1983, Neuharth said some cities the paper had planned to enter in 1984 "might be advanced to later 1983.... If reader and advertiser acceptance nationwide continues at the present early pace, we are confident USA Today can become profitable some time in 1985, after additional substantial investments in 1983 and 1984," he added.

The rollout schedule for USA Today -- which is edited in Rosslyn and transmitted by satellite to printing plants around the country -- calls for the publication to add new markets in this order.

Jan. 10, Houston; Jan. 17, Denver; Jan. 24, Los Angeles; Feb. 9, Miami; Feb. 23, Detroit; March 9, Chicago; March 23, Philadelphia; and April 11, New York City.

During the past year, Gannett acquired three daily papers in Mississippi, bringing its total to 89 dailies and 33 weeklies and biweeklies.