Belo Earns $45.8 Mil. in 4th Quarter

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(AP) Belo reported a fourth-quarter profit Friday, helped by strong political advertising that boosted TV profits.

For the three months ending Dec. 31, the Dallas-based company earned $45.8 million, or 40 cents per share, compared with a loss of $2.5 million, or 2 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The results were in line with the estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call, and at the high end of previous forecasts provided by the company.

Fourth-quarter revenues were $394.1 million, compared with $348.7 million in the same period the year before. TV revenues were $187.1 million, compared with $155.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2001. Newspaper revenues also showed improvement, rising to $196.8 million during the quarter, compared with $185.5 million in the same period the year before.

The fourth-quarter results also included a $2 million gain from the curtailment of a medical benefits program for retirees, and $2.3 million from sale of interest in the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and American Airlines Center.

For the year, Belo earned $131.3 million, or $1.15 per share, compared with the 2001 loss of 2.7 million, or 2 cents per share. Revenues for the year were $1.43 billion, compared with $1.36 billion in 2001.

Belo attributed the year-to-year gain in part to accounting changes and television political advertisements.

“The positive momentum our operations gained throughout 2002 has carried over into the first quarter of 2003,” said Belo’s chief executive Robert Becherd. “With continued high ratings and increased market revenue share at our television stations, along with growing circulation at our newspapers, Belo is well-positioned to capitalize on a continued advertising recovery.”

Belo Chief Financial Officer Dunia Shive said advertising revenue, including $2 million gained by Belo’s ABC affiliates for Super Bowl commercials, will benefit television and newspaper sectors in the first quarter. Both are expected to post single-digit gains in the first quarter, Belo said.

Belo owns owns 19 TV stations and four daily newspapers including The Dallas Morning News. It also owns numerous Web sites.

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