Belo Earnings in Line

The publisher's quarter shows a bottom line decline.
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Dallas media company

Belo

(BLC)

saw earnings decline in the fourth quarter, in large part thanks to the absence of significant political ad dollars during the period.

The publisher of the

Dallas Morning News

and owner of a large TV stations group made $40 million, or 36 cents per share, compared to $53.5 million, or 46 cents per share, during the same period in 2004. Revenue slipped less than 1% to $411 million.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting the company to earn 35 cents per share on $404 million.

"Belo's financial performance in 2005 was solid, achieving record revenues for a non-political year. In the Newspaper Group, revenue momentum built during the year, with each quarter's advertising revenue exceeding the previous quarter," said Belo Chairman Robert Decherd. "The

Dallas Morning News

finished the year with fourth quarter ad revenues up mid-single digits versus the prior year.

"Television Group local spot revenue, national spot revenue and total spot revenue excluding political accelerated in the second half of the year as compared to the first half," added Decherd.

For the first quarter of 2006 the company said January spot revenue at its local stations increased 4% and excluding its New Orleans station would have been up 5.6%. Excluding that station, the TV group is pacing in the high teens for February, thanks to incremental revenue from the Olympics and the Super Bowl. The company expects a lift in the mid-to-high single digits for that segment this quarter.

Where the newspaper division is concerned, Decherd said, "We currently expect ad revenue for the Newspaper Group to increase in the mid-to-high single digits, with increases of approximately 5% in January, mid-to-high single digits in February and high-single digits in March."

In early trading Thursday, Belo shares dropped 16 cents to $21.64.