DES MOINES, Iowa ( TheStreet) -- Meredith ( MDP - Get Report) saw earnings rise during the first quarter, driven by gains in political advertising revenue at its local media group.

For the quarter ended September 30, the media company saw earnings rise 3.6% to $344.4 million, or 56 cents per diluted share, compared with earnings of $332.4 million, or 40 cents per diluted share, in the same period a year ago. Earnings were ahead of analyst estimates of 50 cents a share.

Revenue was up 40.2% to $25.7 million from $18.3 million during the quarter as total advertising revenue increased 7.1%. Its local media group revenue, which includes its television station operations, rose 2.6% on a spike in political advertising revenue to $11.8 million from $943,000 a year ago.

"We're off to a great start in fiscal 2011, with first-quarter profit growth of 40% driven by record demand for political advertising, as well as strong non-political advertising growth at our local media group properties," chairman and CEO Stephen Lacy said. "At the same time, our national media group increased magazine advertising rates per page, grew digital advertising revenues, and posted strong revenue growth in businesses not dependent on advertising."

Overall its national media group, which includes publishing and marketing for its magazines including Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle, saw a 1.2% decline in revenue in the first quarter.

Management expects earnings per share to range from 75 to 80 cents in the second quarter, and to range from $2.50 to $2.75 in 2011.

The company anticipates that total advertising revenues will increase in the low double digits in the second quarter. It also forecasts that local media group non-political advertising revenues will gain in the low- to mid-single digit range, while net political advertising revenues will range from $15 to $18 million. National media group ad revenues are expected to increase in the low- to mid-single digit range.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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