Belo Earnings Up 16%

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(AP) Belo Corp., a Texas-based newspaper publisher and TV broadcaster, reported higher earnings and revenues for its second quarter Friday but also said it would close two cable news channels in Texas and cut 190 jobs.

Belo earned $45.6 million in the April-June period, up 16% from $39.4 million in the comparable period a year ago. Per-share figures rose to 39 cents from 34 cents.

Excluding $2.5 million from winning a property-tax dispute in Rhode Island, Belo would have earned 38 cents per share, meeting the consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Belo, which owns 19 television stations and four newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News, had lowered its own earnings forecast in June to 37 or 38 cents per share.

Revenue rose 6% to $391 million from $369 million a year earlier. TV sales grew 6% and newspaper revenue gained 5%, helped by an 11% boost at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif.

Costs rose 4% in both the TV and newspaper groups.

Chairman and chief executive Robert W. Decherd said the company did well “despite the uneven nature of the economic recovery.”

Decherd predicted that political advertising and the Olympics would boost TV revenue in the second half of the year, with third-quarter spot advertising revenue up by a high single or low double-digit percentage.

On the newspaper side, Decherd predicted a low to mid single-digit revenue increase, with Riverside the strongest and Dallas flat to up slightly because of the uneven local economy. Newsprint expenses will be 9%-10% higher than a year ago, he said.

Separately, Belo announced it had pulled 24-hour cable news channels off the air in Houston and San Antonio after ending a joint venture with Time Warner Cable. The cable company will continue to operate a third joint venture station in Charlotte, N.C., Belo said.

Belo said it had lost $18.7 million through June 30 on the stations, which went on the air in 2002 and 2003. The company said it might take a third-quarter charge against earnings for the loss.

For the first six months of the year, Belo earned $67.8 million, or 57 cents per share, compared to $55 million, or 48 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Shares of Dallas-based Belo were down 35 cents to $23.88 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. After a long rally they have lost about 18% since late May.

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