Scripps outlines long-term growth strategy, provides financial outlook for 2000, 2001

Fri, December 08, 2000 by Tim Stautberg

NEW YORK – The E.W. Scripps Company said today its top priority for long-term growth is expansion of Scripps Networks, which includes popular cable television brands Home & Garden Television, Food Network, Do It Yourself (DIY) and Fine Living.Scripps senior managers discussed the company’s strategic outlook in a presentation to investors during the Credit Suisse First Boston Media Week Conference in New York. An audio archive of the company’s entire presentation will be available after noon Thursday, Dec. 7, on the Scripps Web site at www.scripps.com. The company’s senior managers also discussed current operating results and provided a financial outlook for 2000 and 2001. The outlook included guidance on fourth quarter earnings per share and a forecast for advertising revenues, by business segment, for 2001.“Expanding our growing stable of Scripps Networks brands is priority one,” said Kenneth W. Lowe, president and chief executive officer. “We believe we have an excellent opportunity to build long-term value through the internal development of our fastest growing business segment. Deploying free cash flow to expand Scripps Networks, in our opinion, offers a superior return on investment. We feel fortunate and privileged to have this unique option and we intend to continue along that path.”Richard A. Boehne, executive vice president, said the efficient operation of the company’s newspapers and television stations underpins the company’s growth strategy. The company’s traditional media businesses, he said, are managed to produce maximum free cash flow, capital that can be invested in the company’s new and growing businesses.“That focus is especially important at our newspapers, which contribute the largest percentage of revenues and cash flow,” Boehne said. “Our goal, over the next five years, is to be the industry’s best performing newspaper group.”Daniel J. Castellini, senior vice president and chief financial officer, estimated that the company’s fourth quarter earnings from core operations, excluding unusual items, will fall within a range of 65 cents to 69 cents per diluted share, a 14 percent to 21 percent increase from the same period a year ago.Castellini also projected advertising revenue increases for the company’s business segments for 2001 as follows: Scripps Networks, up 25 to 30 percent; newspapers, up about 5 percent, excluding Denver; and broadcast television, also up about 5 percent, excluding political advertising.This press release contains certain forward-looking statements related to the company’s 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-13 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 cable television networks, with plans to launch a fourth.Scripps cable 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.