Belo Posts Loss in Fourth Quarter


(AP) Media company Belo Corp. swung to a loss in the fourth quarter of 2001 due to severance packages to furloughed workers, early retirement plans, and a continued advertising slump.

Belo reported a net loss of $2.5 million Friday, or 2 cents per share, which included $3.7 million in costs for severance plans to laid-off workers companywide, as well as an early retirement program at The Providence (R.I.) Journal.

Excluding those effects, the company broke even on a per-share basis, beating the expectations of a 3 cent-per-share loss forecast by analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.

In the year-ago quarter, Belo earned $85.7 million, or 76 cents a share, which included gains from the sale of several assets, including The Gleaner in Henderson, Kentucky and the Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Without those gains and other one-time effects, Belo earned 27 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2000.

Fourth-quarter revenues fell 17% to $348.7 million from $421.7 million in the year-ago period.

Belo chief executive Robert W. Decherd said classified ad sales at The Dallas Morning News continued to struggle.
In addition to the Dallas and Providence newspapers, Belo also owns two other newspapers, 18 television stations, and numerous Web sites. It also owns or operates six cable news channels.

For the year, Belo lost $2.7 million, 2 cents a share, compared to earnings of $150.8 million, or $1.29 a share. Full-year revenues fell 14 percent to $1.36 billion from $1.59 billion.

Belo attributed the year-to-year drop to a $29 million write-off of Belo’s investments in certain Internet-related companies and $4.5 million to pay for early retirement packages.

Excluding one-time effects, full-year earnings were 19 cents, compared with 82 cents in 2000.

Decherd said coverage of the Winter Olympics by their NBC affiliates should help the company this year.

“Assuming consumer confidence continues to stabilize, then improve, we are optimistic about Belo’s prospects for 2002,” he said.

Belo shares were up 42 cents to $19.41 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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