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LIN TV Looks for 23 Percent 1Q Revenue Hike

PROVIDENCE, R.I.: LIN TV said today it expects first-quarter revenues to come in 23 percent over a year ago. The broadcast group released preliminary 1Q10 results, saying it expects revenues to total $91.8 million, compared to $74.5 million a year ago.

“We are pleased to see signs of an economic recovery,” said Vince Sadusky, LIN president and CEO. “The preliminary first quarter results show positive momentum and pacing for the second quarter of 2010 is currently greater than 20 percent ahead of where we were last year at this time.”

Core national and local ad sales combined, excluding political, is up 17 percent to $84 million. Political is coming in at $3.4 million for 1Q10 compared to $500,000 last year. Automotive, still a huge chunk of the take at 23 percent of core ad sales for the quarter, increased 54 percent to $19.3 million.

Digital revenues, which include Internet advertising and retransmission consent fees, increased by 47 percent to $13.2 million.

Marci Ryvicker, writing for Wells Fargo, said LIN’s preliminary results came in above expectations. The investment bank raised its 2010 earnings per share estimate on LIN (NYSE: TVL) from 74 to 87 cents. Valuation was raised from the $4 to $5 range to between $6 and $7. The stock immediately shot up to that range on LIN’s preliminary earnings news. Shares jumped nearly 7 percent, from $6.05 to more than $6.70 in today’s trading. They hovered below $6 yesterday morning.

Ryvicker noted that LIN is comfortably within its leverage covenant at 7.6x as of Dec. 31, versus a covenant of 10.5x. It will step down to 6x at the end of the year, when Wells Fargo predicts LIN will be at 4.1x.

LIN said final 1Q10 results would be reported April 22.