(AP) Fourth-quarter net earnings fell 80% at the E.W. Scripps Co. due to lower newspaper and television advertising and an investment write-down.
Net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 totaled $9.5 million, or 12 cents per share, compared with $48.3 million and 61 cents in the same period a year ago. Revenues fell 18% to $375 million from $459.6 million.
Earnings per share from core operations were 52 cents, down from 69 cents a year ago but better than the 49-cent expectation of Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.
The investment losses included a $29 million, pre-tax write-down to reflect the decline in value of Scripps’ holdings in AOL Time Warner.
The write-down partially offset a pre-tax gain of $65.9 million, or 54 cents per share, from the first quarter of 2001 from the exchange of the company’s shares in Time Warner for those of America Online, which acquired Time Warner last January.
Scripps said its AOL Time Warner holdings, now worth about $60 million, grew from a $2.1 million investment in Turner Broadcasting in 1987, which was subsequently acquired by Time Warner.
For all of 2001, Scripps earned $138 million, or $1.73 per share, compared with $163.5 million and $2.06 a year ago. Revenues fell 15 percent to $1.46 billion from $1.72 billion.
Based on advance sales, first-quarter advertising revenue for Scripps Networks is expected to be down between 5% and 10% from last year, and newspaper and broadcast television ad revenues will be down 2% to 4%, Scripps said.
The E.W. Scripps Co. operates 21 daily newspapers, 10 television stations and three cable television networks: Home & Garden Television, Food Network and Do It Yourself Network. Scripps in March plans to begin a fourth cable network, Fine Living.
The company also operates Scripps Howard News Service; United Media, the worldwide licensing and syndication home of the Peanuts and Dilbert comic strips, and 31 Web sites, including hgtv.com, foodtv.com, diynet.com and comics.com.