Nexstar Media Group reported higher first-quarter profits as a drop in ad sales was offset by gains in distribution and digital revenue.
The station owner said first-quarter net income rose 26% to $200.9 million, or $4.42 a share, from $156.9 million, or $3.30 a share.
Net revenue rose 2% to $1.11 billion.
Advertising revenue was down 11.8% to $417.1 million. Core advertising revenue was off 1.4% to $411.7 million and political ad revenue was down 90.2% to $5.4 million following last year’s presidential election cycle.
Distribution fee revenue, including retransmission consent, was up 13% to $621.2 million and digital revenue rose 17.6% to $66.3 million.
“Nexstar generated record first quarter financial results across key financial and cash flow metrics, outperforming consensus expectations and marking continued operating momentum and an exceptionally strong start to the year,” said CEO Perry Sook.
“Overall, our record first quarter results continue to highlight the strength of our assets and operations, the resiliency of our business model, and the value of our enterprise-wide focus on managing operations for current and future cash flow,” Sook said. “With operating momentum continuing in the second quarter across our businesses, we expect to generate year-over-year growth across all of our non-political revenue sources throughout 2021, as the vaccine rollout progresses and economic conditions continue to improve. As a result, we remain confident in our ability to meet or exceed our pro-forma average annual free cash flow guidance of approximately $1.27 billion over the 2021/2022 cycle.”
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