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Sinclair On a Tear: Over $1.5 Bil in M&A

Sinclair is at it again, grabbing the Barrington TV group for $370 million, with those stations (18 owned plus management deals for six more) coupled with four more from Cox, acquired earlier in the week, to launch Sinclair subsidiary Chesapeake TV.

Sinclair has plunked down in excess of $1.5 billion for stations dating back to its $200 million buy of the Four Points group in September 2011, followed by $385 million for the Freedom Broadcasting stations in November, followed by $412.5 million for six Newport TV stations–and the $99 million for the Cox quartet and $370 million Barrington pickup.

There were a few smaller deals too, such as $54 million for WHAM Rochester in a separate pact with Newport, and WTTA Tampa for $40 million.

The Barrington announcement included word of Sinclair looking to sell WSYT Syracuse and WYZZ Peoria for regulatory reasons.

Keep in mind, Sinclair discussed the prospect of bankruptcy in 2009, when its stock was around a dollar, and it owned 58 stations.

Marci Ryvicker, analyst extraordinaire at Wells Fargo, likes the latest deal. “We view Barrington as a sensible addition to SBGI’s small market focus,” she wrote. “Recall that SBGI has created a new small market operating entity called Chesapeake TV. As we understand it, this operating entity is within the Sinclair umbrella but will provide the tailored support for small market stations and will be run by Steve Pruett (as COO), who was most recently CEO of Communications Corporation of America’s 25 television station group. We think the separate management of small and mid-size markets is one of the keys to a successful strategy given the distinct needs of these DMAs.”

Speaking of Communications Corp., the group is for sale, Pruett obviously knows them well, and Sinclair certainly appears to remain in acquisition mode. Perhaps there’s a match to be made.

Ryvicker’s bottom line? “Another smart move by SBGI. We continue to like SBGI’s accretive acquisitive streak.”

So does the rest of Wall Street, it appears. Sinclair stock is at $15.70 as I write this Friday afternoon. Before the Barrington deal was announced, it was a little over $14.