Sinclair Broadcast Group reported lower fourth quarter earnings reflecting the cost of getting into the regional sports network business.
Net income was $44 million, or 47 cents a share, down from $2.06 million, or $2.10 a share, a year ago. Operating income rose 21% to $322 million, excluding adjustments for $45 million in transaction, legal and regulatory costs.
The acquisition of the Fox regional sports networks from The Walt Disney Co. last year contributed to rising costs for sports rights, and interest expense.
Revenue rose 82% to $1.6.22 million.
Media revenue rose 86% to $1.581 million, while political revenues dropped to $23 million from $150 million last year during the midterm elections. Distribution revenue was $1.1 billion, up from $334 million a year ago.
Revenue from digital business increased 36%.
"2019 was a transformational year for our Company, as we almost tripled our enterprise value and transitioned into a more diversified media company," said CEO Chris Ripley, "As the owner of the largest group of regional sports networks (RSNs) and a leading provider of local news, Sinclair is well-positioned to capitalize on the most desirable segments of the broadcast and media industry - live local content that resonates with viewers. In 2020, our focus will be on growing our share of what is believed to be unprecedented political advertising spending, seeking new organic opportunities, adding more relevant content, and deploying new technologies that solidify Sinclair as a leader in the industry."
For 2020, Sinclair said it expects ad core advertising revenues of $391 million to $401 million, plus political ad revenue of $34 million to $46 million. It sees distribution revenue between $1.16 billion and $1.63 billion. Total revenue is expected to be between $1.647 billion and $1.675 billion.
The company also announced a 20 cent per share quarterly dividend.
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