Hearst-Argyle Television Q4 Earnings Down

President and CEO David Barrett Discusses Trials of 2007
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Hearst-Argyle Television announced fourth-quarter-2007 earnings, showing total revenue at $216.6 million, down 8% from the same quarter in 2006. For the year, total revenue of $755.7 million was down 4% from full-year 2006 and earnings per share down 35%.

Hearst-Argyle president and CEO David Barrett acknowledged that 2007 was a particularly trying year for the company.

“It is hard to recall a period when so many attention-grabbing factors came into play and directly impacted our business,” Barrett said, “from the housing and automotive slumps, to credit and capital-market volatility at the macro level, to network-ratings challenges, a writers' strike and continuing technology-driven media consumption behaviors that impact our industry."

He continued, “Still, our stations competed very effectively for audience share, revenues and profitability in their respective markets, while at the same time looking forward to capturing new opportunities that leverage our local brands, loyal audiences and strong advertiser relationships.”

Quarterly earnings per diluted share were $0.35, down from $0.46 in the same quarter of 2006. For the full year, Hearst-Argyle recorded earnings per diluted share of $0.69 compared with $1.06 in 2006.

Earnings per share were down 32.3%. The quarter saw a $30.9 million decrease in net political revenue. Net digital media revenue was up 25% for the quarter to $6.6 million and retransmission-consent revenue was up 20% to $5.5 million.

Barrett was optimistic that political spending, the Olympic Games and the company’s digital projects would boost Hearst-Argyle in 2008, although he did acknowledge “the continuing uncertainty of recent economic trends.”

Hearst-Argyle owns 26 stations. Executive vice president Terry Mackin left the company Feb. 15 to run the Univision station group.

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