E.W. Scripps reported lower fourth-quarter earnings as expenses rose and revenue was flat
Net income was $6.962 million, or 9 cents per share, down from $$38.337 million, or 46 cents a share a year ago
Revenue rose 1.6% to $257 million despite a $52.8 million decline in political ad revenue.
Scripps has divided its operating results into local media and national media.
In the local media division, fourth quarter segment profit was $45.4 million, compared to $95.1 million a year ago. Expenses were up 6.5 to $157 million, driven by network affiliation agreements and the cost of producing the original show Pickler & Ben.
Local media group revenue was down 17% to $203 million. Core advertising was up 6.6%, but political advertising fell to $4.3 million from $56.2 million. Retransmission revenue rose 4.9% to $63.5 million.
National Media segment profit was $2.7 million compared to a year ago loss of $2.2 million.. National media revenue jumped to $53 million from $9 million. Revenue from Katz Broadcasting, acquired in October, was $41 million.
Scripps said it expects that in the first quarter local media revenue will be up in the mid-single digits, with retransmission up about 10%. It expects national media revenue to be in the mid-to-high $50 million range.
“We’ve begun to see the positive impact of our comprehensive reorganization and restructuring with cost reductions that will drive meaningful margin and cash flow improvement,” said CEO Adam Symson.
“We also continue to move forward with our television station acquisition strategy – an aggressive plan to get deeper and even stronger in the markets where we operate and emerge with a higher-performing portfolio that has more revenue and profit-generating capacity,” Symson said.
“And we’ve made significant progress unlocking strong growth opportunities around the future of television while improving our financial foundation,” he said. “Our fast-growing Katz networks are capitalizing on the resurgence of over-the-air viewership and their 90 percent national household reach, and Newsy is quickly marching toward 40 million pay TV homes by the end of 2018. Both are creating compelling platforms to attract national advertising revenue."