TBS posts gains in third qtr.

Turner Broadcasting System reported improved third-quarter operating profits with gains from ad revenues at its entertainment operations, but its news segment felt the ill effects of the extra expenses of covering election ’92.

The Atlanta-based company reported operating profits of $ 64.1 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, vs. $ 59.5 million in the comparable period a year ago.

Net income advanced 69% to $ 12.5 million (5 cents per share) compared with $ 7.4 million (1 cents). Revenue advanced 16% to $ 456.4 million from $ 392.6 million.

Financial analysts said the results squared with their expectations.

Quarterly entertainment operating profits were up 18% to $ 43.6 million on revenues of $ 229.5 million. The quarterly revenue gain, an 11% increase, came largely from a 17% jump in advertising dollars–noteworthy considering the advertising recession.

The company attributed the revenue gains to TBS’ Superstation Atlanta Braves’ telecasts and more national time at TNT during the period. It also sold that time at higher rates than in the comparable period a year ago.

Hanna-Barbera, acquired in December 1991, was included in the entertainment segment results, as were the new operations of Turner Publishing and TNT Latin America. The latter added $ 10 million in revenues. Start-up costs associated with the Cartoon Network were included.

Operating profits in the news segment dropped to $ 36.4 million from $ 37.6 million. That was because of the expenses related to election newsgathering. News segment revenues rose 15% to $ 126.9 million from $ 110.1 million.

Turner said earlier it would spend $ 10 million to cover this year’s elections, but sources inside the company say TBS has exceeded that sum. First Boston financial analyst Mary Kukowksi estimates the quarterly election expenses at $ 5 million.

In syndication and licensing, which includes theatrical films, syndication and home video, Turner narrowed its losses to $ 3.8 million from $ 6.7 million. Revenues were up 30% to $ 59.1 million from $ 45.3 million.

Turner pointed to the theatrical release of “Tom & Jerry: The Movie” internationally and stronger homevid revenues abroad for the $ 14 million revenue increase.

According to Daily Variety research, Turner Home Entertainment had third-quarter sales of approximately $ 5.3 million, with three titles–“Montana, “”Onassis” and “Duel of Hearts”–accounting for $ 1.7 million of that total (Daily Variety, Nov. 2).

THE achieved $ 3.6 million in sales in the sell-through market with the main contributor being “King Kong,” a title it promoted for the pic’s 60th anniversary at $ 16.98.

While revenues at Turner’s sports segment jumped 38%–primarily due to the pennant-winning Atlanta Braves–higher players’ salaries offset the gains. Operating profit fell to $ 493,000 from $ 1.975 million. Revenue was $ 31.5 million vs. $ 22.9 million.

For the nine months, Turner reported net income of $ 47.9 million (19 cents), a 13% rise from the $ 42.5 million (6 cents) registered in the like period a year ago. Nine-month revenues increased 9% to $ 1.2 billion from $ 1.1 billion.

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