Media General Posts Overall 3Q Gain, But Newspapers Dipped

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Media General Inc., publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Tampa Tribune and Winston-Salem Journal along with other media properties, said Wednesday its third-quarter earnings more than doubled, boosted by a gain from divestitures. Its publishing profit slipped as ad sales stagnated.

Net income rose to $20.6 million, or 87 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 24 compared with $9.8 million, or 41 cents a share, a year ago.

The latest results included a gain of $11.8 million, or 50 cents per share, from the sale of several CBS television stations. Excluding the gain, profit was $8.8 million, or 37 cents per share.

Total revenue rose 14 percent to $241 million from $210.9 million last year.

Analysts expected, on average, earnings of 44 cents per share on revenue of $253 million, according to Thomson Financial.

In September, revenue rose 16.7 percent to $79.5 million, reflecting the purchase of four NBC affiliated television stations. Excluding the new stations, revenue climbed 2.4 percent. Publishing revenue fell 2.9 percent as newspaper advertising revenue dropped by 2.4 percent.

For the quarter, the company’s publishing unit reported a 12 percent drop in profit as revenue fell nearly 1 percent. Newspaper advertising revenues were flat with the year-ago period.

Media General expects its publishing division to increase revenue by 5 percent to 7 percent in the fourth quarter, aided by the addition of an extra week compared with the previous year’s final quarter.

The company projects broadcast division revenue to rise by 70 percent, boosted by $25 million in expected political advertising ahead of November’s national elections.

In addition to its three metropolitan newspapers, the company owns 22 daily community newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, more than 150 weekly newspapers and other publications and 26 network- affiliated television stations.

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