Scripps reports February revenues

Mon, March 12, 2001 by Tim Stautberg

CINCINNATI – The E. W. Scripps Company’s pro forma consolidated revenues for February were $115 million, up slightly from the same month a year ago. February 2001 revenue growth was somewhat affected by the month having one less day than February 2000. Revenues for Scripps Networks, the company’s fastest growing operating division, were up 18.3 percent to $27.8 million. Scripps Networks includes cable television brands Home & Garden Television, Food Network, Do It Yourself (DIY) and Fine Living, which is scheduled to launch late in the fourth quarter this year.Subscriber growth for HGTV and Food continued at a healthy pace in February. HGTV now reaches 69 million homes, up 8.9 million, or 15 percent, from the same month a year ago and up 1.1 million from January. Food Network can now be seen in 56.5 million homes, up 11 million, or 24 percent, from February 2000 and up 1.4 million from January.Pro forma newspaper revenues for the month were $57.9 million, even with the same month a year ago. Newspaper advertising revenues were down 1.9 percent. Classified advertising revenue for February was down 3.3 percent and local advertising revenue declined 4.1 percent. Preprint and other advertising revenue increased 4.5 percent and national advertising was up 6.5 percent.Going forward, the company will receive 50 percent of the operating income from the Denver Newspaper Agency, which began operations on Jan. 22, 2001. The agency handles business and production operations for the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post, owned by MediaNews Group. The company’s share of operating income will be reported as “other” newspaper revenue. The company will continue to include its editorial costs associated with the Rocky Mountain News in operating expenses. The company’s financial statements no longer will include advertising, circulation and other revenue produced by the Rocky Mountain News, nor any non-editorial costs. To make the company’s year-over-year newspaper results comparable, revenues are being reported on a pro forma basis, including the Rocky Mountain News as if the recently implemented joint operating agreement had started on Jan. 1, 2000.At the company’s broadcast television stations, February revenues declined 14 percent to $19.9 million. The company attributes the decline to the absence of political advertising this year compared to last and general weakness in the broadcast television advertising market.Based on operating results for the first two months and a softer-than-expected advertising environment affecting all of its business segments, the company is revising its earnings guidance for the first quarter and full year.The company expects first quarter core earnings per share of 30 to 35 cents, excluding unusual items, compared to 45 cents in the first quarter of 2000. The company on Jan. 23 projected that first quarter earnings would be between 35 and 45 cents per share.Softer-than-expected newspaper advertising revenues and a smaller-than-expected first quarter improvement in Denver prompted the company to lower the guidance that had been issued in January. The company’s expectation for the positive effect that Denver will have on full-year 2001 results is unchanged. For the full year, the company now expects core earnings per share of $2.30 to $2.50, excluding unusual items, compared to $2.20 in 2000. Despite the current economic slowdown, the company will continue to invest in establishing Do It Yourself and preparing Fine Living for launch in the fourth quarter of 2001. This press release contains certain forward-looking statements related to the company’s newspaper publishing, Scripps Networks and broadcast television businesses that are based on management’s current expectations. Forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks, trends and uncertainties, including changes in advertising demand and other economic conditions, that could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations expressed in forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements should be evaluated with the understanding of their inherent uncertainty. The company’s written policy on forward-looking statements can be found on page F-4 of its 1999 SEC Form 10K and page F-14 of its most recent Form 10Q.The E.W. Scripps Company is a diverse media concern with interests in newspaper publishing, broadcast television, cable television networks and interactive media. Scripps operates 21 daily newspapers, 10 broadcast TV stations and three national television networks, with plans to launch a fourth.Scripps national television network brands include Home & Garden Television, Food Network, Do It Yourself and Fine Living, due to launch in the second half of 2001.The company also operates Scripps Howard News Service, United Media, the worldwide licensing and syndication home of PEANUTS and DILBERT, and 31 Web sites, including hgtv.com, foodtv.com, diynet.com and comics.com.