Political ads, new TV stations boost E.W. Scripps' 4th-quarter results

CINCINNATI – The E.W. Scripps Co. reported sharply higher earnings and revenue for the fourth quarter on Tuesday, helped by higher political advertising revenue ahead of the elections last November. The results were also aided by contributions from TV stations the company bought in 2011.

The newspaper publisher and TV station owner earned $27.2 million, or 47 cents per share, in the three months that ended on Dec. 31. That’s up from $6.3 million, or 11 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue rose 32 per cent to $259.8 million from $197.4 million. FactSet only quotes one analyst estimate for Scripps, which is not enough for consensus measurement. The analyst expected the company to earn 55 cents per share on revenue of $261.1 million.

Scripps owns newspapers such as the Ventura County Star in California and The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn. Its stations include WCPO in Cincinnati and WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The financial results include revenue from television stations in Indianapolis, Denver, San Diego and Bakersfield, Calif., all of which the company purchased in 2011. Without the new stations, revenue would have grown 14 per cent to $225 million.

Political advertising soared to $56.9 million from $3.5 million a year earlier. Political ad revenue for the quarter was higher than for any previous full year, the company said.

E.W. Scripps’ stock fell 90 cents, or 7.9 per cent, to $10.45 in morning trading. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $8.19 and $11.69.