HSN posts 3rd-qtr. gain

NEW YORK — Barry Diller’s HSN Inc., in the middle of several deals that are transforming the company, reported third-quarter earnings of $3.5 million Wednesday compared with a loss of $371,000 a year earlier.

HSN announced last month plans to buy Universal Studio’s television business for $4.075 billion in cash and stock. That deal won’t be completed until early next year, however.

But the third-quarter results reflect other deals that HSN has done as it evolves into a broad-based entertainment company, including last December’s merger of Home Shopping Network, Savoy Pictures Entertainment and Silver King Communications Inc., and July’s acquisition of 50.1% of Ticketmaster Group.

Adjusted for the timing of these acquisitions, HSN’s performance was even better in the third quarter, with the bottom line swinging from a loss of $1.4 million to a profit of $3.3 million. HSN stock dropped 50¢ to $37.87.

Driving the result was the Home Shopping Network, which increased earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (cash flow) 3.9% to $35.3 million on 2.4% higher sales of $240 million. For the first nine months, the network’s cash flow is up 35.4% to $122.6 million on 2.5% higher sales of $752.4 million.

HSN vice chairman James Held, who runs the shopping network, said the improvement reflects “our continued success in managing the fundamentals of the core electronic retailing business.”

Ticketmaster’s revenue rose 9.5% to $88.2 million while broadcasting revenue, from Silver King and Savoy stations, fell slightly to $12.8 million as a result of the closure earlier this year of the Telemation video production unit. HSN did not break out cash flow for either Ticketmaster or the broadcasting group.

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