Sinclair Broadcast Group
beat Wall Street's first-quarter expectations on higher revenue and improved cash flow.
The company said its first-quarter loss, including charges relating to accounting changes, was $45.6 million, or 54 cents a share, compared with a loss of $38.2 million, or 46 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.
On a pro forma basis, Sinclair posted an operating loss of $630,000, or 4 cents a share, compared with a loss of $36.6 million, or 46 cents a share, a year ago. The results beat the Thomson Financial/First Call consensus estimate, which was for a loss of 8 cents a share.
In a press release, the company said it was beginning to see "signs that the advertising recession that began in September 2000 is finally abating." Sinclair said revenue from national advertisers remained weak, but the strength of local markets should return the industry to positive growth this year.
Goldman Sachs upgraded Sinclair to market outperform from market perform on the strength of its first quarter, and the brokerage firm raised its 2002 estimate for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
Shares of Sinclair Broadcast were up on the news, climbing 9.5% to $14.40.