Clear Channel sees bright 1st qtr.

Investors unfazed by CEO's ill health

New YORK — Radio giant Clear Channel Communications reported a healthy fiscal first quarter, though news that CEO Lowry Mays is recovering from brain surgery somewhat overshadowed company’s better-than-expected earnings showing.

Mays underwent surgery Friday to relieve pressure from brain swelling that stemmed from localized bleeding and a small blood clot. Company said Mays is expected to make a full recovery, though there was no timetable for when he would return to work.

Investors, satisfied by the company’s bench strength, seemed unfazed by the CEO’s ill health, as the shares lost only 25¢ in trading Tuesday to close at $41.78.

In a call with analysts Tuesday, Mays’ son Mark, Clear Channel’s president and chief operating officer, said his father was “already barking orders” at him and chief financial officer Randall Mays.

Thanks to a $47 million gain on its stake in Univision and sale of some radio assets, company reported net income up 64% for the first quarter over the same period last year to $116.5 million. The gains were partly offset by a $31 million loss on early debt retirement.

But the top line also showed signs of recovery, with total revenues up 11% to $1.97 billion in the quarter, fueled by an improved 5% sales gain from its radio station group and a hefty 16% increase from outdoor advertising.

Company predicted earnings per share would grow at a percentage rate in the “high teens to low 20s” for the full year.

“With the economy strengthening and the advertising environment continuing to improve, we are ideally positioned to deliver impressive growth for the remainder of the year and beyond,” company said in a statement.

Clear Channel, which owns 1,200 radio and 19 U.S TV stations, as well as live theater venues and billboards, recently dropped “The Howard Stern Show” from six of its radio stations after the FCC slapped indecency fines on the broadcaster.

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