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Emmis hits profit paydirt at $3.4 mil

Losses widen to $20 mil from $4 mil

Indianapolis-based radio and TV broadcaster Emmis Communications swung to a profit of $3.4 million for the latest fiscal year, from a $3.1 million loss the year before.

Annual revenue rose 45% to $471 million.

For the fourth quarter ended Feb. 28, losses widened dramatically to $20 million from $4 million, partly on higher interest expense on a hefty debt load. After-tax cash flow, which many broadcasters say is a more realistic way of judging financial performance, rose slightly to $14.9 from $14.5 million.

Quarterly revenue grew to $117 million from $80 million.

During the quarter, Emmis announced 120 layoffs at its TV division, mostly at the stations it purchased last fall from Lee Enterprise.

“As we move into the next fiscal year, I remain confident in our ability to deliver strong operating results across our business units, despite a slowing economy,” chairman-CEO Jeff Smulyan said.

During a conference call, Emmis execs noted that the worst may soon be over after a tough February and March. As advertisers trickle back, comparisons will start improving, they said. They also said the company would consider a stock buyback at current levels.

The comments apparently heartened investors. Emmis stock rose 13.3% to close at $24.

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