Interest belts Belo profits

NEW YORK — Publisher and broadcaster A.H. Belo suffered a 21% drop in net profit to $14.9 million in the third quarter, it said Wednesday, after substantially higher interest costs offset growth in broadcasting and newspaper earnings.

Increasing its TV station group

Belo acquired the Providence Journal Co. in February for $1.5 billion in cash and stock last year, dramatically increasing its TV station group as well as adding the Providence Journal and the Dallas Morning News. Belo’s debt has climbed dramatically as a result, hitting $1.59 billion at Sept. 30 compared with $631 million a year earlier.

That translated into a fivefold increase in Belo’s interest expense to $26.9 million, which hurt net earnings.

Belo’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (cash flow) looked healthier, however. Broadcasting cash flow rose 4.7% to $48.9 million on 4.7% higher revenue of $132.9 million, adjusted for the timing of the Providence Journal acquisition.

Belo chairman Robert Decherd said the broadcasting group overcame the loss of $14 million in political and Olympics-related advertising that was made last year to show the growth in revenue.

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