Scripps Networks Interactive Returns To Profitability

Scripps Networks Interactive turned in a $94.4 million profit in the fourth quarter, reversing a net loss of $154 million in the year ago period.

The company's Lifestyle Media segment, which houses TV assets such as HGTV and Food Network, reported a 12% increase in revenue to $380 million from the fourth quarter 2008. Scripps acquired a 65% stake in Travel Channel during the period, excluding that acquisition, total revenue for the unit would have been $369 million.

Advertising revenue rose 6.8% to $281 million for the period, while affiliate revenue rose 16% to $81.3 million in the fourth quarter versus the period in 2008. The company's revenue beat analysts expectations, according to a Thomson Reuters poll, profit came in on target.

Scripps also recorded a $4 million charge for marketing and legal expenses related to its battle with Cablevision over carriage renewal agreements. That spat erupted at the end of the year when Scripps yanked its channels off the New York cable system until Cablevision agreed to come to the negotiating table. The two parties agreed terms in January. The company also made a $21 million write-down of the value of Fine Living Network which it is re-launching as the Cooking Channel.

Operating revenue at HGTV was $156 million up 5%, in part thanks to an addition one million subscribers over the 12 month period; operating revenue at Food Network was $144 million, up 13%. Revenue at Great American Country was also up 7.1% to $7.6 million. At Fine Living Network revenue was down 4.7%, the company said it would complete its re-brand in the second quarter of 2010.

Kenneth W. Lowe, chairman, president and chief executive officer at Scripps said in a statement: Strong advertising sales and double-digit growth in affiliate fee revenue at our Lifestyle Media businesses carried the day, offsetting lower revenues generated by our online comparison shopping businesses. The solid growth in ad sales during the quarter reflects an improving advertising environment and our ability to monetize the unprecedented viewership growth at our flagship networks.