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Clear Channel CEO Has Brain Surgery

Lowry Mays is expected to recover. The company also posts higher first-quarter earnings.
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Lowry Mays, the 67-year-old former investment banker who built

Clear Channel Communications

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into a media empire, underwent surgery Friday for a blood clot in his brain. The apparently successful procedure was disclosed by the company Tuesday along with its first-quarter earnings, which showed profit rising 64% from a year ago thanks to revenue gains in its three main business lines.

"Lowry will not be able to join us on the conference call today because last Friday he woke up with numbness on his left side and was admitted to the hospital for testing," the company said in a statement. "The doctors found some swelling of his brain caused by localized bleeding and a small blood clot.

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"He underwent surgery Friday afternoon to relieve pressure caused by the swelling. The surgery was successful, and Lowry is in good spirits and mentally alert." The company expects a complete recovery.

Mays founded Clear Channel in 1972 and runs it with his sons Mark, the CFO and president, and Randall, the chief financial officer.

Clear Channel continued to fire on all cylinders in the March quarter, saying earnings rose to $116.5 million, or 19 cents a share, from $71.0 million, or 12 cents a share, last year. Excluding various items, the company's profit was $100.3 million, or 16 cents a share, in the latest quarter. Revenue rose 11% to $2.0 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 14 cents a share on revenue of $1.84 billion. The company also reiterated its expectation that operating income will increase by a percentage in the low double digits, while earnings per share rise by a percentage in the high teens to low 20s.

By segment, Clear Channel's radio broadcasting arm saw revenue increase 5% to $832.9 million in the latest quarter, led by higher local advertising, higher syndication revenue and growth in traffic. The company said its best advertisers were in the automotive, services, entertainment and consumer products sectors.

Clear Channel's outdoor advertising revenue rose 16% to $521.6 million in the quarter, led by strong domestic billboard results. Live entertainment revenue shot up 17% to $514.0 million, paced by higher attendance at concerts by Bette Midler and Britney Spears, among others.