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E.W. Scripps (SSP) Swings To 3Q Profit, Beat Estimates

 November 09, 2012 09:10 AM

(By Balaseshan) E.W. Scripps Co. (NYSE: SSP) reported a quarterly profit fueled by the contribution of television stations and a surge in political advertising revenue. Earnings exceeded Street's expectations. Further, the company's board authorized new share repurchase program.

Earnings for the third quarter were $12.0 million or $0.21 per share, compared to a loss of $10.72 million or $0.19 per share last year. The year-ago quarter included impairment charge of long-lived assets at four of the company's newspapers.

Revenue jumped 31% to $219.64 million. The latest quarter included revenue from television stations in Indianapolis, Denver, San Diego and Bakersfield that were acquired on Dec. 30, 2011.

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Excluding the new stations from the 2012 performance, revenue increased 15.0% to $193 million led by the strongest third-quarter revenue performance ever reported by its television stations.

Analysts, on average, polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a profit of $0.13 per share on revenue of $214.03 million for the third quarter.

Revenue from television stations soared to $125.33 million from $69.94 million. On a same-station basis, television revenue climbed 41% in the quarter to $98.8 million.

Total revenue from Scripps newspapers declined 3.7% to $92.4 million, due to lower revenue from circulation, and print advertising.

In addition, the company's board of directors has authorized the additional repurchase of up to $100 million of its Class A Common Shares. The authorization expires Dec. 31, 2014.

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The company currently plans to fund about half of the buybacks from its cash balance and half using cash proceeds from the potential exercise of employee stock options. About 8.6 million options are currently exercisable at prices between $8.78 and $10.38. They expire at various times through 2016.

Looking ahead into the fourth quarter, the company expects television revenue to be up about 80% and revenue excluding the newly acquired television stations to rise between 35% and 40%. Scripps projects television expenses to be up 40% to 45% and expenses excluding the newly acquired stations to increase at a percentage rate in the mid-single digits.

The fourth-quarter television revenue guidance includes political advertising of about $57 million, a figure that was largely fueled by higher-than-expected presidential advertising in the battleground states of Ohio, Florida and Colorado.

Newspaper revenues and expenses are predicted to decline at a mid-single-digit rate, with the decline in expenses being slightly greater than the decline in revenue. Expenses for shared services and corporate is anticipated to be about $9 million.

SSP closed Thursday's regular session at $10.17. The stock has been trading between $7.52 and $11.46 for the past 52 weeks.



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