Belo's 1Q Profit Up 6% on Lower Expenses, Higher Newspaper Revenue

By: (AP) Belo Corp., which publishes The Dallas Morning News and other newspapers and owns 19 TV stations, said Thursday that its first-quarter profit rose 6% on lower operating expenses and better-than-expected newspaper revenue.

Results exceeded Wall Street estimates and its shares rose more than 2%.

The media company said its quarterly income grew to $23.7 million, or 20 cents per share, in the January-March period from $22.3 million, or 19 cents per share, a year ago. Operating costs fell 1% to $286.8 million, with a 2% reduction in salaries and benefits due to job reductions.

Revenue fell 1% to $346.7 million from $351.3 million last year, the results of a 1.8% decline in television revenue and a 0.4% drop in newspaper revenue.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial estimated first-quarter earnings at 16 cents per share on revenue of $346.9 million.

For the quarter, revenue at the company's flagship The Dallas Morning News fell 4.1%, while rising 0.5% at The Providence Journal and rising more than 11% at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif. Newspaper ad revenue fell 0.8% from the quarter last year.

Belo expects 2005 earnings in the range of $1.17 to $1.24 per share. Analysts estimate 2005 earnings per share of $1.19.

Belo shares rose 48 cents, or 2.1%, to $23.25 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.


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