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Scripps Earnings Up on United Media Sale

The E.W. Scripps Company earnings surge after selling United Media Licensing to Iconix Brand Group for $175 million.



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E.W. Scripps

(SSP) - Get E.W. Scripps Company (The) Report

saw earnings spike during the second quarter, boosted by the sale of its licensing business, United Media Licensing, to

Iconix Brand Group

(ICON) - Get Iconix Brand Group Inc. Report

for $175 million in June.

For the quarter ended June 30, the company saw earnings skyrocket to $99.5 million, or $1.56 per share, compared with earnings of $2.3 million, or 4 cents per basic share, in the same period a year ago. Earnings from discontinued operations were $1.53 per share, and earnings from continuing operations were 4 cents a share, ahead of analyst estimates of 1 cent a share.

Scripps completed its transaction with Iconix on June 3, resulting in an after-tax gain of $96 million and essentially paid off all its long-term debt.

Revenue rose 5.2% to $188.8 million from $179.5 million during the quarter, driven by a 22.4% increase in television revenue.

Within its television segment, national advertising revenue was up 31.5% to $22.2 million from $16.9 million, local advertising revenue was up 13% and online revenue increased 29%.

"The flow of advertising dollars to broadcast television continues to recover nicely, and the organic growth of the digital and mobile audiences is encouraging," said Rich Boehne, president and CEO. "Much of that improvement is thanks to the general economic recovery, but we're also seeing returns on the investments we're making in high-quality local news content and the more aggressive marketing of the products and services we offer in local TV markets."

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Broadcast network revenue was down more than 85% in the second quarter after its contract with ABC ended on January 31. Scripps stations are still operating as ABC affiliates under a temporary negotiation, but the companies are currently trying to work out a long-term affiliate agreement.

Newspaper revenue dropped 4% in the second quarter, primarily due to a 7.7% decline in advertising revenue.

"Our newspaper advertising revenue is still trending below the prior year, but the declines continue to moderate," said Boehne. "Coupled with an intense focus on community-service journalism, this realigning of our newspapers is helping offset some of the revenue weakness and positioning us for success as revenues stabilize."

For the first half of the year, the company swung to a profit of $98.6 million, or $1.54 a share, compared with a loss of $218.4 million, or $4.08 a share, in the same period a year ago. Discounting gains achieved from discontinued operations, the company would have posted no earnings per share for the period.

Revenue rose 1.7% to $373.1 million from $366.8 million. Television revenue was up 16.6% driven by a 20.3% increase in national advertising revenue.

Newspaper revenue fell 5.6% to 220.6 million from 233.6 million and newspaper advertising was down 10.1%.

For the next quarter, management expects to see more than a 30% growth in television advertising revenue. Total newspaper expenses are expected to increase slightly, primarily due to the higher cost of newsprint and the declines in newspaper advertising revenue is expected to moderate slightly. The total television expenses are expected to increase about 10%.

Scripps shares are up almost 3% to around $8.

-- Reported by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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