Scripps Almost Breaks Even in 2007

The E.W. Scripps Co. lost $1.6 million (1 cent per share) in 2007, down from net income of $353 million ($2.14 per share) in 2007.

In the fourth quarter, the company suffered a net loss in 2007 of $256 million ($1.56 per share), including a charge related to its uSwitch online comparison shopping subsidiary in the United Kingdom. That’s a drop from a profit of $134 million (81 cents per share) in the same period in 2006.

“As we indicated when reporting preliminary financial results for the fourth quarter, the reduced levels of energy switching activity at uSwitch throughout 2007 have resulted in a non-cash write-down of the businesses’ carrying value,” said Kenneth W. Lowe, president and chief executive officer for Scripps. “We anticipate a return to profitability at uSwitch during the first quarter of 2008 and in the meantime have tactically aligned the costs of operating the business with lower levels of anticipated revenue.”

Acquired by Scripps in 2006, uSwitch is an online comparison and switching service that helps consumers in the United Kingdom compare prices on car insurance, gas, electricity, water, heating cover, home telephone, digital television, broadband, credit cards, personal loans, secured loans and current accounts.

Back home, Scripps killed off the 80-year-old Albuquerque Tribune Feb. 23 after failing to find a buyer. The paper had run under a joint operating agreement with the Albuquerque Journal since the 1930s.

But Scripps will still make money from New Mexico news. A federal filing dug up by Editor and Publisher magazine shows Scripps will still own 40 percent of the partnership that now owns just one paper. Editor and Publisher said the arrangement “appears to be unique in the history of discontinued JOAs.”

Scripps plans to split into two publicly traded companies by summer. Scripps Networks would keep the company’s so-called “lifestyle brands” including programmers HGTV, Food Network, DIY Network, Fine Living and Great American Country, and related Web sites. E.W. Scripps Co. would retain its network of daily and community newspapers, the Washington-based Scripps Media Center (home to the Scripps Howard News Service) and 10 broadcast TV stations.