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Emmis Chairman Optimistic About Station Prices

Jun 28, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Emmis Communications Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Smulyan on Tuesday said he is “cautiously optimistic” that his company will get more than $1 billion for the 16-station television group it put up for sale in May.

Separately, the company reported that it swung to a profit for the fiscal first quarter amid improvements in several core advertising sectors.

Speaking to analysts during Emmis’ quarterly conference call, Mr. Smulyan said the sale of the TV group is “moving forward.” He added that he was “pleasantly surprised by the number of people who expressed interest” in the stations. Among the likely suitors is Gannett, whose chairman and CEO, Douglas McCorkindale, indicated he is looking at the Emmis properties.

Mr. Smulyan said that while Wall Street has put the station group’s price tag at around $1 billion, he is “cautiously optimistic we will do better than that.” He added that the company will entertain offers for individual stations and for the entire group.

Emmis posted a profit of $10.4 million for the three months ended May 31, compared with a loss of $73.6 million a year ago, when the company booked a $97 million charge related to debt cancellation. Revenue rose 6 percent to $161.8 million.

At the TV station group, revenue slipped 3 percent to $66.6 million as improvements in several ad sectors failed to completely offset the absence of political advertising spending.