E.W. Scripps Co. reported a smaller loss as it works through its merger and acquisition activity and its stations recover from the pandemic.
The first quarter net loss was $6.1 million, or 7 cents a share, down from an $11.8 million loss, or 15 cents a share, a year ago.
The quarter included an $81 million gain from the $230 million sale of its Triton audio measurement business and integration costs of $28.6 million and $7.1 million in restructuring costs. All in, special charges reduced income from continuing operations by $29.3 million, or 36 cents a share.
Operating income rose to $57.2 million from $20.9 million a year ago.
Revenue rose 31% to $541 million.
Local media profits decreased to $55.9 million from $59.1 million a year ago.
Local media revenue was $313 million, down 3.8% from a year ago, mainly because of the sale of WPIX-TV, New York. The company said COVID reduced core ad revenue by about $8 million. Political revenue was $1.3 million, down from $18.7 million in last year’s presidential election year.
Scripps said core ad revenues were up 2% on an adjusted and combined basis. In March, Scripps’ top five non-political ad categories were up, pointing to a recovery in local ad markets.
Retransmission revenue was up 11% to $156 million.
Scripps’s new network segment, including Ion, the Katz Networks and Newsy, turned in a profit of $92.2 million. Revenue was $214 million.
On an adjusted-combined basis, profit for the networks group rose to $95.2 million from $92.5 million a year ago with revenue down 0.7% to $220 million.
Looking ahead, Scripps said that for the second quarter it expected local media revenue to be up in the high teens and for network revenue to be up about 20%.
“During the first quarter, our Local Media and Scripps Networks divisions capitalized on the resurgence of the local and national TV advertising marketplaces with strong sales execution and drove an exceptionally strong start to the year,” Scripps president and CEO Adam Symson said.
“The foundation of our acquisition of Ion and the creation of our OTA powerhouse networks portfolio is growth in free, over-the-air television viewing that consumers pair with subscription streaming services,” Symson said. “Television is a high-free-cash-flow business, and Scripps is creating value today from our two highly profitable operating divisions even as we prepare to capitalize on future industry growth.”
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