NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Scripps Networks Interactive ( SNI) is falling more than 4% today after management said its fourth-quarter financial results will come in lower than third-quarter results due to weaker television ratings.

"We'll have a very good quarter," CFO Joseph NeCastro said at Citi's 21st annual media conference on Wednesday. "It will not be at the level we saw in the third quarter."

NeCastro said that its channels, including HGTV and Food Network, attracted a smaller viewing audience in the fourth quarter, driving advertising revenue lower.

In the third quarter the company saw earnings increase 55.7% to $101.7 million, or 61 cents per share, compared with earnings of $65.3 million, or 39 cents, in the same period a year earlier.

"Scripps Networks Interactive had an outstanding third quarter, benefiting from robust affiliate revenue growth and continued strong advertising demand, particularly for our targeted lifestyle television networks," president and CEO Kenneth Lowe said in the company's third-quarter report. "All of our networks and our online shopping related businesses contributed to double digit revenue and earnings growth."

Operating revenue from HGTV gained 13.8% to $173.6 million from $152.5 million while Food Network saw a 35.3% increase to $160.4 million from $118.6 million a year earlier. The company's total operating revenue from advertising rose 33.7% to $316.4 million from $236.6 million.

Management is optimistic that it will regain momentum in the future.

"The tree just can't grow to the sky," NeCastro said of the company's recent ratings lag. "At some point, you're going to have a rest period."

Analyst Eric Handler with MKM Partners rates Scripps a buy with a price target of $63. In a Jan. 3 research note Handler said he remains positive in both his "near-term and long-term views" for the media company.

"We believe Scripps has the pieces in place to sustain a double digit EPS growth rate over the next several years," Handler said. He believes that the company will benefit from strong advertising trends in 2011 as well as the improved likelihood that Scripps will acquire Tribune's 31% stake in Food TV after it emerges from bankruptcy.

Scripps Networks Interactive shares are down 4.14% to $48.13 in midday trading.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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