Paced by its acquisitive strategy, Nexstar reported first quarter earnings of $133.8 million, a 19.3% increase over the first quarter a year before. Nexstar’s local revenue climbed 9.5% and national grew 16.3% for an 11.4% increase in core revenue.
Political revenue was just over $4 million in the quarter, way up from the previous first quarter. Digital revenue showed a 3.4% decline while retrans revenue increased 47.6%, to $35.1 million.
“The 19.3% rise in first quarter net revenue again highlights the value of our long-term strategy to complete accretive acquisitions while evolving the traditional television broadcasting operating model into a diversified entity with high margin revenue streams,” said Perry Sook, chairman, president and CEO of Nexstar. “With strong core advertising trends, the cyclical return of political spending, our expanded digital media operations and visible retransmission revenue growth, we believe Nexstar is on track to generate record free cash flow throughout 2014.”
In March, Nexstar completed the acquisition of three stations in Iowa from Citadel Communications for $87.9 million. Nexstar has operated the stations since September through a Time Brokerage Agreement. In April, the FCC approved Nexstar’s purchase of five stations in Colorado and Florida for $33.5 million.
Nexstar has four more transactions representing 29 stations pending before the FCC, including a deal for the Communications Corp. of America stations, which it expects to close in 2014.