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LIN TV Beats the Street Yet Again

PROVIDENCE, R.I.: LIN TV finished the fourth quarter of 2009 with $101.1 million in revenues, down 3 percent from the year before but exceeding analyst expectations. Thomson Reuters said analysts predicted an average of $88.7 million in revenues for LIN.

The absence of a strong political season contributed to the 3 percent decline. Fourth-quarter 2009 political revenues were $8.3 million compared to $24.4 million the year earlier. Excluding political, revenues increased 12.6 percent year-over-year. Digital revenues, including Internet and retransmission consent, increased 44 percent to $13.4 million.

Net income was $10.8 million or 21 cents a share, compared to a net loss last year of $625.9 million, or $12.24 a share, when the company took impairment and restructuring charges totaling $745 million.

The fourth quarter of 2009 also included an impairment charge of $4 million, or $2.6 million after-tax, on an accrued loan for LIN’s joint venture with NBC Universal, “which continues to be impacted by the economic downturn.”

The JV, Station Ventures Holdings LLC, was extended through April of next year, leaving LIN’s share of the shortfall on interest payments at 20 percent. Wells Fargo’s Marci Ryvicker said LIN has $6 million in reserve for the shortfall that it will pay in two installments in the coming year.

For the full year ending Dec. 31, 2009, net revenues fell 15 percent to $339.5 million compared to 2009. Digital revenues increased 48 percent to $43 million. Full-year profit was $9.1 million, compared to a loss of $830.4 million on impairment and restructuring charges of more than $1.1 billion. Net income per share was 18 cents compared to a net loss of $16.33 in 2008.

Ryvicker also noted that LIN is well within its loan-covenant leverage ratio of 10.5x, with leverage of 7.6x as of Dec. 31. Shares of LIN (NYSE: TVL) have climbed 52 percent year-to-date, and more than 17 percent on today’s earnings announcement to trade at $6.74 in mid-afternoon. -- Deborah D. McAdams