On the backs of multiple station group acquisitions, Sinclair Broadcast Group reported fourth quarter earnings of $382.3 million, up 33.2% over the same quarter in the previous year. On a same station basis, excluding political revenues, local net broadcast revenues were up 10.8% in the quarter, while national net broadcast revenues were down 3.1%.
Sinclair’s operating income was $103.3 million in the quarter, a decrease of 13.3% from the previous year, due to the absence of political revenues, one-time acquisition costs and a loss on the sale of WSYT Syracuse of $3.3 million.
Net broadcast revenues for the year increased 32.3% to just over $1.2 billion. Operating income was $324 million in the whole of 2013, a decrease of 1.6%.
David Smith (pictured), Sinclair president and CEO, called it a “historic year” for the broadcaster.
"During the year we closed on the purchase of 63 television stations and added over $1 billion in assets, which contributed $148.4 million in revenues in 2013,” he said. “We benefited from 6.9% same station growth in our largest advertising category, automotive, 143% as reported growth in digital interactive, and continued growth in net retransmission revenues and core time sales."
Political revenues were $6.7 million in the fourth quarter, versus $54.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Local net broadcast revenues were up 58.1%, while national net broadcast revenues, which include national time sales and other national broadcast revenues, were down 14.2%.
On Nov. 22, 2013, Sinclair closed on the acquisition of 18 stations owned by Barrington Broadcasting Group for $370 million and entered into agreements to operate or provide sales and other services to another six stations.
Sinclair forecasts net broadcast revenues in the first quarter to be approximately $366.8 million to $371.2 million, up 45% to 46.8% year-over-year, due to acquisitions. But the frigid weather gripping much of the country is affecting TV business.
"The frigid arctic temperatures and snow storms have caused those businesses that rely on store traffic, such as retail, fast food and restaurants, to reduce their advertising spending,” said David Amy, executive VP and chief financial officer. “It is unclear at this point if they will redeploy those budgets later in the quarter or the year.”
Assuming all pending transactions close, Sinclair will own and operate, program or provide sales services to 166 television stations in 77 markets, reaching 38.7% of U.S. television households.
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