Scripps: No Plans to Exit Newspapers, Could Sell Off Some Properties

By: Jennifer Saba

E.W. Scripps executives said the company has no plans pull out of the newspaper business but that it could sell off some properties.

The comments were made during Bear Stearns? Annual Media Conference on Tuesday.

Management also addressed the slowdown at the company?s interactive division since traffic is slacking at the comparison-shopping site Shopzilla. According to Bear Stearns analyst Alexia Quadrani, who issued a note on the presentation, unique visitors to Shopzilla are down in the mid-single digits on ?very difficult comps? which aren?t expected to ease until later this year.

Bear Stearns notes that Scripps is driving free traffic to the site rather than pay for third-party traffic — 50% of the Shopzilla?s traffic is free compared with 33% a year ago — a move that Merrill Lynch applauds in its note about the session.

Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine chopped her estimates for Scripps Interactive segment revenue in Q1 from 28% to 14% while from 17% to 5% in Q2.

?We think most investors will take a wait-and-see approach to see if interactive revenue growth accelerates in 2H,? wrote Fine who noted that Scripps shares have declined 10% year-to-date due to the Scripp?s preannouncement last week and general market weakness.

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