Revenues finally in positive territory for Scripps


Television group revenues were up by a double-digit percentage in Q2, while the revenue decline for newspapers got smaller at the E.W. Scripps. The result was the first year-over-year revenue gain for the company since Q2 of 2008.

Q2 television revenues were up 22% to $74.8 million, with ad revenues up 26%. Local gained 13% to $42.3 million, national 32% to $22.2 million and political jumped to $4.4 million from only $333K a year earlier. Apart from ad sales, retransmission consent agreement fees rose 36% to $3 million and online revenues associated with the TV stations gained 29% to $1.9 million.

Network comp was less than a quarter million, down from $1.9 million a year ago. Scripps’ six ABC affiliates (out of 10 stations) have been operating on month-to-month extensions since their affiliation agreement expired in January. Scripps is still expecting to come to terms on a new long-term agreement and is accruing cash for expected reverse-comp payments to ABC. “Thus far our discussions with ABC have been productive,” CFO Tim Stautberg told analysts.

Looking ahead, Stautberg said Q3 is pacing up more than 30% for television, while the newspaper division is again expecting a revenue decline, albeit by a smaller percentage.

Asked about core growth, CEO Rich Boehme said Q3 TV growth is pacing in line with Q2. “Automotive had a great July, retail and services both had double-digit increases. I expect auto to slow a bit from that 84% [Q2 growth] in third quarter just because we’re going against the [Cash for] Clunker[s] comparison of last September, but the first two months of automotive are very strong in comparison,” he told analysts.

As for the less bad news on the newspaper side, Q2 revenues were down 4% to $108 million, with ad revenues down 7.7% to $73.3 million. National was down 10%, classified 8.4% and local 8.1%. The company reported that pure-play online ad revenues were up 14%, but total newspaper-related online was down 5.5%.

The tiny “syndication and other” segment of the company saw revenues from continuing operations up 3% to $6 million.

So, total revenues for E.W. Scripps from continuing operations gained 5.2% to $179 million. As noted at the beginning of this article, that was the first year-over-year revenue gain for the company since Q2 of 2008. Income from continuing operations, net of tax, was $1.8 million, or three cents per share, compared to four cents a year ago. However, if you add in the gain from the sale of United Media Licensing, which closed June 3rd, net income for Q2 jumped to $99.5 million, or $1.56 per share.

See the related story for a discussion of what Scripps might do with its cash hoard from the $175 million sale of United Media Licensing.