The E.W. Scripps Co. reported higher fourth quarter profits as revenue were boosted by station acquisitions and political advertising.
Net income jumped $21.979 million, or 27 cents a share, from $4.972 million or 9 cents a share a year ago.
Revenue rose 41% to $368 million.
The company took an $8.9 million non-cash write-off on its original show Pickler & Ben and had costs of $3.8 million from acquisition of Triton and Raycom assets and the pending purchase of TV stations from Cordillera.
Scripps said profits from local media operations was $89.7 million, more than double a year ago.
Revenue from local media was $281 million, up 39%. Broadcast time sales were up 51%, boosted by $82 million in political advertising. Core advertising revenue was down 84%, partly because some traditional advertisers were squeezed out by election year ads.
Retransmission revenue increased 23% to $77.9 million.
Profits from national media was $7 million, up from $2.7 million a year ago. National media revenue rose 40% to $85.5 million.
Scripps said revenue for its Newsy news service were up 196%.
For 2019, Scripps said it expects a 15% increase in retransmission revenue. Local media revenues are expected to grow by mid-single digits and national media revenue is expected to be in the low-to-mid $80 million range, with expenses of about $80 million.
“Last year, the company made tremendous strides in its plan to improve short-term operating performance while positioning itself strategically for long-term growth. In terms of our five-point growth plan, we completed the reorganization of our company into consumer-focused Local and National Media divisions, reduced our corporate and division costs by more than $30 million, sold our 34 radio stations, and beat our financial results guidance across the board each quarter,” said CEO Adam Symson.
“Looking ahead, we are focused on continuing to seek opportunities to bolster the durability and reach of our portfolio. Scripps also continues to grow its retransmission revenue and will benefit in less than a year from the reset of its Comcast contract on Dec. 31, 2019,” Symson said. “We will continue to scale our national businesses by focusing on audience and revenue growth to drive greater future cash-flow contributions.”
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