Sinclair splits stock 2 for 1 January-March loss is narrowed to $3.3 million

'We had a good quarter'


May 01, 1998|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. yesterday announced a 2-for-1 stock split and said it had reduced its first-quarter losses from last year.

Baltimore-based Sinclair said that it incurred $3.3 million in net loss, or 15 cents per diluted common share after adjustments for dividends. In the first quarter of 1997, the company chalked up a $7.6 million net loss, or 22 cents per diluted common share.

Sinclair reported $123.8 million in total revenue for the quarter, 14.4 percent more than the $108.2 million it took in during the beginning of 1997.

First-quarter net broadcast revenue was $112.6 million, up 13.9 percent from last year's $98.9 million.

Sinclair's broadcast cash flow, a key industry yardstick, amounted to $50.4 million, 17.7 percent higher than the $42.8 million reported for last year's first quarter.

The company attributed the revenue and cash flow growth in part to the continuation of an aggressive acquisition strategy, and said the continuing losses were due to acquisition-relatedpayments.

Sinclair said that during the quarter it substantially completed its $630 million acquisition of Dallas-based Heritage Media Group's stations.

The deal, announced last July, gave Sinclair six television stations and 24 radio stations, several of which the company has since sold.

On April 13, Sinclair finally got federal permission to operate a television station in Columbus, Ohio, a market where the company already owned another television station.

The regulatory approval tied up one of the last loose ends of Sinclair's $1.2 billion 1996 purchase of St. Louis-based River City Broadcasting LP.

David B. Amy, Sinclair's chief financial officer, said, "We had a good quarter. We were able to close some of our announced acquisitions. That was a real positive for us."

Upon completion of all pending deals, Sinclair will own or program 57 television stations in 37 markets and 51 radio stations in 11 markets.

The 2-for-1 split of common shares was approved yesterday by Sinclair's board of directors but still must be approved by shareholders at the company's annual meeting on May 11. They stand to get one additional common share for each share held on May 14.

The earnings report and the stock-split announcement were released after the stock market closed. During the day, Sinclair shares slipped 37.5 cents to close at $51.875 on the Nasdaq stock market.

Pub Date: 5/01/98

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