Scripps Sees 7% Earnings Boost in 1Q

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By: AP and E&P Staff

E.W. Scripps Co. reported a 7% rise in first quarter profits compared with a year ago on stronger sales in its television division and new interactive media businesses.

Net income was $75.1 million, or 45 cents a share, in the quarter ended March 31, compared with $70 million, or 42 cents a share, a year ago, the company reported Tuesday.

Scripps also had an after-tax gain of $2.1 million, or 1 cent a share, from the formation of a publishing partnership in eastern Colorado with MediaNews Group Inc. In addition to newspapers, Scripps also owns television stations and several cable channels including Food Network and HGTV.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected earnings of 40 cents per share.

Revenue was $589.7 million, up 22 percent compared with $482.9 million during the year-go period. Had Scripps owned two of its interactive businesses in both periods, Shopzilla and uSwitch, revenues would have been up 16 percent.

Income from continuing operations was $81.5 million, or 49 cents a share, compared with $72.9 million, or 44 cents per share, during the same period a year earlier. Stock option expensing, which began Jan. 1, reduced net income for the period by $5.3 million, or 3 cents a share.

At its newspaper division, excluding Scripps papers that were contributed to the new Colorado partnership, total newspaper revenue grew 4.8% due to strength in classified advertising. Advertising revenue at newspapers managed solely by Scripps was up 6.5% to $148 million.

Local advertising revenue was up slightly, 0.9% to $40.9 million. National was down 5.1% to $9.7 million. Classified was up 11% to $61.6 million. Preprint and other, including online, was up 9.9% to $35.5 million.

Circulation revenue was down 2.4% to $32.3 million.

Newsprint expense grew 13% on a 14% increase in newsprint prices.

The contribution to segment profit from newspapers managed solely by Scripps was down 8.4% because of continuing investments in online initiatives, primarily in the company?s growing Southwest Florida market; higher newsprint and employee costs, and the decision by the company to increase newspaper sales staffs in selected markets.

Scripps reported a segment loss of $1 million versus a contribution to segment profit of $7 million a year earlier from its newspapers that are published under a joint operating agreement. The loss is attributable to a decline in equity income from its JOA newspapers in Denver, Cincinnati, and Albuquerque.

First quarter results benefited from strong performance at the Scripps Networks division, which includes HGTV, Food Network, DIY Network, Fine Living and Great American Country, Scripps said.

Scripps is a diversified media company with interests in cable television networks, newspaper publishing, broadcast television stations, electronic commerce, interactive media, and licensing and syndication.

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