E.W. Scripps Back in Black for Q4

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By: E&P Staff

E.W. Scripps said Tuesday it swung to a profit in the fourth quarter of 2006 on an 11% increase in revenue after breaking even in the same period a year ago.

But Scripps, whose top executives have mused publicly about getting out off the newspaper business, said its growth was in its cable television, TV station group and interactive media, which includes Shopzilla and uSwitch.

Scripps said its overall Q4 net income was $133.95 million, or 81 cents a share, compared to a loss of $603,000, or zero cents a share in the 2005 period.

Income from continuing operations rose to $132 million, or 80 cents a share, from $98.8 million, or 60 cents a share in the year-ago period.

Scripps said its revenue increased 11% to $683 million.

Revenue at newspapers managed solely by Scripps was down 1.0% during the fourth quarter to $182 million, the company said. That figure excludes newspapers that were contributed to a partnership in Colorado created during the first
quarter of 2006.

Advertising revenue at newspapers managed solely by Scripps was $148 million, about even with the fourth quarter 2005, Scripps said. Online newspaper advertising revenue was up 28%, it said.

Newspaper division segment profit during the fourth quarter 2006 was $50.9 million compared with $55.4 million during the same period last year.

“Total segment profit for the Scripps newspaper division was negatively affected by slowing classified advertising, particularly in the automotive and recruitment categories, the continued investment in division-wide
online initiatives and new products in the company’s Florida markets,” Scripps said.

In a statement, President and CEO Kenneth W. Lowe said there was reason to be optimistic about the newspaper segment.

“At Scripps newspapers, the fourth quarter slowed largely as a result of industry-wide softening of classified advertising. Despite the soft quarter, our newspapers finished the year with total advertising revenue up more than 3%, which will be near the top of the newspaper industry peer group,” he said.

On the growth side, Scripps said total revenue for the Scripps Networks division increased 13%, while ad revenue was up 11%. TV station group revenues also jumped 25%.

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