Upbeat 1st quarter results

By: Jason Williams Advertising revenues strong at newspaper companies
Strong advertising revenues benefited publicly owned newspaper companies reporting financial results for the first quarter of 1999. Editor & Publisher will update the Earnings Scorecard as results become available, in the magazine and at its Web site, www.mediainfo.com.

Dow Jones & Co.
Not including special items and revenues from the company's former market data unit, Telerate, net income rose 3.7% to $40.9 million in the first quarter, topping analysts' expectations. Revenues rose 2.7% to $462.1 million on the same basis.
Including a one-time charge, net income was up 48.5% to $51.5 million in the first quarter. The company says its strong results reflect overall advertising gains, improvement at its Ottaway community newspapers, and a share repurchase program.
Print publishing revenues rose 3.2% to $290.6 million. Operating income in that segment declined 1.4% from a year ago to $52.5 million, due to a drop in the financial advertising category at The Wall Street Journal. Revenues in electronic publishing, which includes Dow Jones Newswires, Dow Jones Interactive, The Journal's Interactive Edition, and Dow Jones Indexes, were about even with the same year-earlier period at $97.54 million.

E.W. Scripps Co.
The Cincinnati-based company reported earnings rose 27.6% to $32 million in the first quarter on the strength of newspaper advertising revenues and growth of its cable television networks. Revenues rose 7.7% to $373.4 million.
In the newspaper division, revenues were up 4% to $220 million. Ad revenues increased 7.8% to $168 million, including a 25% increase in national advertising. The group's results were offset by competition in Denver, Colo., where Scripps' Denver Rocky Mountain News is battling The Denver Post, owned by MediaNews Group.
In broadcasting, first-quarter revenues were flat and the company said it expects similar results in the second quarter.
Scripps owns 19 daily newspapers, nine network-affiliated television stations, two TV networks, and Scripps Howard News Service.

Gannett Co.
Not counting one-time items, earnings rose 12.3% in the first quarter to $178.9 million at the nation's second-largest newspaper group in terms of daily papers. Revenues grew 4% to $1.25 billion in the same period.
Last year's first quarter included non-recurring gains of $183.6 million from the sale of several businesses.
Newspaper group revenues gained 5% in the quarter. Advertising revenues were up 16% at the company's flagship, USA TODAY, and 7.5% for the overall segment. The television segment faced tough comparisons with the year-ago period, when results were lifted by Super Bowl- and Olympics-related advertising. Gannett publishes 74 daily newspapers, 21 television stations, and cable television systems.

Media General
Profits fell 11.3% in the first quarter of 1999 compared with the same period last year. The Richmond, Va.-based publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch says overcapacity in its newsprint operations, soft advertising sales, and relaunch costs in the broadcast division affected results.
Net income was $11.3 million, down from $12.7 million in the same year-ago period. Revenues were about even at $232 million.
Despite a slowdown in national advertising, publishing results improved slightly on the strength of higher classified and preprint ad revenues.

New York Times Co.
Earnings fell 5% to $61.4 million in the first quarter 1999, while revenues advanced 2.3% to $739 million.
The newspaper division showed strong revenue growth, lower newsprint prices, and a share buyback program. Last year's first quarter included a one-time pre-tax gain of $4.6 million from the sale of equipment.
Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. says the company, which publishes The New York Times, is on track to reach its goal of 10% to 15% earnings per share growth in 1999.
Ad revenues in the first quarter rose 5.4% at the Times newspaper and 3.7% in the overall newspaper division. Revenues from Internet ventures grew 18.8% to $4.7 million.
First Call research associate Thomas O'Keefe says while the Times' first-quarter results were "a little below the average expected," they are still positive.

Tribune Co.
Not counting special items, first-quarter earnings at the Chicago-based company rose 11% to $73 million on the strength of operating profit gains in publishing and broadcasting, besting analysts' expectations. Revenues rose 7% to $720 million over the same period last year.
Tribune chairman John W. Madigan says he expects earnings growth of 10% to 15% for the year. The First Call consensus estimates for the full year is $2.87 per share, 13.4% higher than the $2.53 per share recorded in 1998.
Results excluded gains on the company's sale of 1 million shares of America Online and swap of its CBS TV affiliate in Atlanta in the first quarter of 1999.
Overall revenues in the publishing division, which includes the Chicago Tribune, rose 5% to $392 million. Ad revenues rose 3% in the first quarter. Broadcast revenues gained 10% to $264 million.

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