Biz Briefs

Nov 3, 2003  •  Post A Comment

A pair of station groups reported divergent third-quarter results last week, and both said they felt the impact of the lack of political advertising in the quarter. LIN TV reported a 4 percent jump in third-quarter profit to $6.1 million, or 12 cents a share, from a year-earlier profit of $5.9 million, or 12 cents a share, as the company cut interest expenses through debt refinancings and increased cash distributions tied to the company’s joint venture with NBC. Revenue for the 24-station group slipped nearly 7 percent to $85.8 million, hurt by the decline in political advertising spending compared with a year ago. Meanwhile, Hearst-Argyle Television reported a 9 percent drop in third-quarter profit to $23 million, or 24 cents a share, from a year-earlier figure of $25.2 million, or 27 cents a share, as a sharp decline in political advertising took its toll on the company. Revenue at the broadcaster, which owns of 27 network-affiliated stations, fell more than 5 percent to $167.3 million.
Chairman: MGM Seeking Acquisitions
MGM Chairman and CEO Alex Yemenidjian said last week his company is looking to make acquisitions after its failed attempt to snag Vivendi Universal Entertainment earlier this summer, continues to explore ways to “share the company’s wealth” with its shareholders, paid down its term debt of $1.15 billion and has enough cash on hand to step up with a bid on an asset when the time is right. Mr. Yemenidjian’s comments came as MGM reported a third-quarter loss of $32.6 million, or 13 cents a share, compared with a year-ago profit of $11.7 million, or 5 cents a share. Revenue surged 20 percent to $457.1 million. The studio’s film unit drove much of the revenue growth, thanks to strong results for films such as “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde,” which offset a 7 percent decline in television revenue to $62.5 million.
Martha Stewart Swings From Profit to Loss
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia swung to a third-quarter loss last week to $3.8 million, or 8 cents a share, from a profit of $2.8 million, or 6 cents a share, a year ago, as the company continued to labor under the dark cloud of its founder awaiting her trial for insider trading. Revenue at the lifestyle company tumbled 28 percent to $51.2 million from $70.9 million a year ago, driven by lower revenue at the company’s publishing unit. The company’s television unit produced a 3 percent increase in revenue to $6.6 million, thanks to higher advertising rates, which offset lower ratings. Operating income before depreciation and amortization tumbled 87 percent to $200,000 for the quarter, while the division broke even on the profit side.