USA Beats Estimates as Loss Widens

Barry Diller's USA Networks (USAI), which operates the Home Shopping Network and ticket agency Ticketmaster, among other things, on Thursday reported a wider third-quarter operating loss per share but beat consensus estimates.

The company reported a pro forma loss per share of 10 cents, excluding one-time charges and nonoperating gains, vs. 8 cents a share a year ago. Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial had projected a loss of 18 cents per share.

Cash flow as measured by total pro forma earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 22%, to $159.8 million from $136.3 million a year earlier.

USA's SCI FI network posted strong growth numbers, as its revenue jumped by more than 40%, to $64.4 million. The channel saw its viewership increase, and USA said SCI FI is now the No. 1 network in adult viewers 25-54, a demographic favored by advertisers.

USA, which also operates the flagship USA Network, blamed higher income tax costs, equity losses in unconsolidated investments and amortization of goodwill in connection with various acquisitions for its third quarter EPS loss.

Earlier this week, USA said it was considering merging its Ticketmaster unit with its half-owned Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch ( TMCS).

Pro forma revenue from its operating business totaled $1.12 billion, compared with pro forma revenue of $924.9 million a year earlier.

USA shares rose 75 cents to $17.75 in early trading Thursday.

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