Scripps’ 3Q Earnings Drop 36 Percent

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(AP) The E.W. Scripps Co.’s third quarter earnings fell 36%, as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks hurt an already depressed market for advertising and affected the company’s broadcast and newspaper revenues.

Earnings for the quarter ended Sept. 30 were $22.6 million, compared with $35.4 million in the third quarter of 2000, the company said Wednesday. Earnings per share were 28 cents, down from last year’s 45 cents.

Excluding one-time items, the company’s earnings per share of 38 cents from core operations beat the lowered 33-cent estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson/First Call.

Scripps had warned on Sept. 18 that its third-quarter core earnings could fall below the company’s earlier projection of 38 cents to 46 cents, but business improved and enabled Scripps to reach the low end of its previous forecast.

Revenue fell 16% to $342.1 million from $407.4 million in the year-ago period.

Scripps saw improved operating results in Denver where its Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post, owned by MediaNews Group, entered into a joint operating agreement earlier this year. Scripps’ operating loss in Denver was $1.8 million during the quarter, compared with $4.5 million a year ago.

Scripps management said it expects fourth-quarter earnings per share from core operations this year to be in the 55-cent to 65-cent range, compared with 69 cents last year. Analysts had been expecting 65 cents per share.

That includes expectations that the advertising slowdown will continue, plus projected startup losses from the company’s Do It Yourself and Fine Living cable television channels of 5 cents per share in the fourth quarter and 18 cents for all of 2001, compared with a 9-cent loss in 2000.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Scripps earned $128.4 million, or $1.61 per share, up from $115.2 million, or $1.46 per share, at this time last year.

This year’s results benefited from a $50.8 million gain Scripps realized from its holdings in Time Warner stock when America Online bought Time Warner.

Excluding that gain, earnings from core operations for the first nine months totaled $102.9 million, or $1.29 per share, compared with $119.6 million and $1.51 at this time in 2000. Revenue was $1.01 billion, down from $1.25 billion.

Scripps operates 21 daily newspapers, 10 broadcast television stations and three cable channels with plans for a fourth, the Fine Living channel, which is launching in early 2002.

Other operations include Scripps Howard News Service, 31 World Wide Web sites, and United Media, which licenses and syndicates the Peanuts and Dilbert comic strips.

Shares of Scripps were up 82 cents to $59.42 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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