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BET cable props up $

NEW YORK — Black Entertainment Television’s parent company BET Holdings reported Wednesday a 9% drop in net profit to $4.79 million but higher operational income from the BET cable network for the three months to July 31.

And the higher earnings from the network reinforced views that BET chairman Bob Johnson’s $48 a share buyout offer is less than the company is worth, analysts said. BET stock closed Wednesday up 6¢, to $54.62.

The July quarter’s drop in net profit was due to a $2.9 million one-time charge on the cost of closing BET’s Color Code skin care business, the company said. But the core business of cable programming continued to grow, reflected in BET network’s 24% increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (cash flow) to $18.4 million.

The quarter concluded BET’s fiscal year. BET’s net profit for the year rose slightly to $23.7 million, while cash flow for the BET network rose 27%, to $69.6 million.

Some analysts estimate BET is worth $70-$75 a share based on 1998 cash flow, which is expected to hit about $80 million. Wednesday’s figures for the 1997 fiscal year were in line with 1998 projections, one analyst said.

But several new startup businesses are losing money. BET on Jazz lost $4.8 million in the fiscal year while BET’s magazine unit lost $2.7 million and its restaurant arm lost about $800,000.

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