Scripps Posts Flat Profit for 1Q

By: (AP) E.W. Scripps Co., operator of 21 daily newspapers the Food Network and, said Thursday that first-quarter earnings were about flat with year-ago results, but revenue grew 14% on rapid growth at its lifestyle television networks and improved results at its newspapers.

Net income totaled $70 million, or 42 cents per share, for the January-March period, compared with $70.5 million, or 43 cents per share, a year ago. First-quarter 2004 earnings included a gain on investments of $9.5 million, or 6 cents a share.

Revenue grew to $585.1 million from $513.7 million last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for the company to post profit of 38 cents per share on revenue of $565.6 million.

In trading Thursday morning, E.W. Scripps shares rose $3.03, or 6.3%, to $51.35 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $44.73 to $54.65.

E.W. Scripps said strong performance at the company's Scripps Networks division continues to drive financial growth. Scripps Networks includes the company's growing portfolio of national television networks, including Home & Garden Television, Food Network, DIY Network, Fine Living, and Great American Country.

Scripps Networks segment profit was up 30% year-over-year to $80.9 million in the first quarter of 2005, and total revenue for the division increased 28% to $203 million.

At the company's newspapers, segment profit increased 8.3% to $64 million. Scripps said newspapers benefited from continued improvement in help-wanted classified advertising, solid growth in preprint and other advertising, including online, strong improvement in joint newspaper operation results, and limited expense growth.

During the first quarter of 2005, total newspaper revenue reached $182 million, up 2.1% year-over-year. Ad revenue at newspapers managed solely by Scripps was up 3.7% to $144 million.

At the company's broadcast television stations, total revenue was down 4.5% to $72.3 million during the first quarter, primarily because of the lack of political advertising revenue.


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