Scripps Reports Q4 Decline in Profit; Cable Nets Generating Strong Revenue

Jan 25, 2005  •  Post A Comment

E.W. Scripps Co. on Tuesday reported a 10 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit; the company was hurt in the 2004 quarter by the absence of a tax benefit that drove up profit in the year-earlier period.

The Cincinnati-based company’s profit was $91.3 million, or 55 cents a share, compared with $102 million, or 62 cents a share, a year ago. The 2003 quarter included a $25.3 million one-time gain related to adjustments made to the company’s state and federal tax provisions. Revenue for the quarter rose 18 percent to $607 million.

For the year, Scripps’ profit rose 12 percent to $303.8 million, while revenue climbed 16 percent to $2.2 billion.

Driving much of the company’s growth were the company’s cable properties, which continued to generate strong revenue and segment profit growth in the quarter. Fueled by gains at Food Network and Home & Garden Television, the Scripps Networks division recorded a 37 percent surge in segment profit to $91 million, while revenue advanced 32 percent to $205 million.

Advertising at Scripps network was up 25 percent to $159 million, while revenue from affiliate fees skyrocketed 70 percent to $40.7 million, thanks in large part to new carriage agreements with cable operators that transform Scripps Networks’ flagship channels from unpaid to paid.

Meanwhile, Scripps’ 10 television stations saw segment profit rise 51 percent to $39.8 million on a 19 percent rise in revenue to $98.8 million. Much of the growth derived from strong political advertising in the quarter. Spending on political ads hit $12.2 million.