Belo Earnings Rise 52 Percent

DALLAS: Belo shares rose 4 percent today on the company’s reported earnings, up nearly 52 percent from last year. Belo posted net earnings of $13.5 million for the first quarter of 2010, compared to $8.9 million for the comparable quarter a year ago. Earnings per share totaled 13 cents compared to 9 cents last year. Revenues were $154.3 million versus $133.5 million.

“Belo’s first quarter total revenue increase of 15.6 percent was highlighted by a strong resurgence in the company’s spot advertising revenue, which grew more than 17 percent compared to the first quarter of 2009,” Belo chief, Dunia Shive, said. “While political, Olympics and Super Bowl revenue all contributed to the year-over-year spot revenue increase, improved advertising conditions in several of the company’s largest categories were also factors, especially automotive, which was up 45 percent.”

First-quarter political revenue was $6.3 million, up from $700,000 a year ago. Retransmission yielded $11.6 million, up 19 percent. Web site revenues increased 12 percent to $7.3 million.

1Q09 included a gain, net of taxes, of $9.1 million, or 9 cents per share, associated with the repurchase and retirement of company bonds. 1Q10 included a $2.5 million credit, net of taxes, from pension contributions from A.H. Belo Corp. Excluding these one-time items, pro forma EPS was 11 cents for 1Q10 versus zero for 1Q09. Station EBITDA of EBITDA of $57.5 million was up 77 percent over 1Q09. Belo reduced its debt by $35 million during 1Q10.

Cash and equivalents were $4.9 million and long-term debt was $993.4 million at the end of March. Shares of Belo (NYSE: BLC) were trading at $8.96 in mid-afternoon, up 65 percent year-to-date.

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