Station sales prop up Hearst-Argyle results

Net income rises to $20.3 mil, revs fall to $148.3 mil

The sale of some Phoenix properties helped TV station group Hearst-Argyle Television post a fourfold boost in first-quarter profit Monday, even as revenue fell 13% due to slackened ad sales.

The New York-based company, which operates 27 TV stations and two radio properties, reported net income of $20.3 million in the latest quarter, compared with $4.6 million in the same period last year. Hearst-Argyle would have posted a modest quarterly loss had it not been for a gain from the sale of the three Arizona stations, partially offset by the writedown of certain investments.

Revenue fell to $148.3 million.

“The generally weak U.S. economy, along with declining consumer confidence levels, is having a very negative effect on ad spending across virtually all core categories,” CEO David Barrett said. “Our customers are reducing advertising expenditures in response to their own profit pressures, which contributes to a downward spiral in overall sales of products and services.”

Hearst-Argyle’s first-quarter results also suffered by comparison with a year-ago period marked by heavy political advertising in the buildup to last year’s U.S. presidential and congressional elections.

Revenue will likely be off 10%-14% from a year ago in the second quarter, execs estimated.

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