Broadcaster expects better 4Q earnings

Sinclair revises forecast to 16.8% gain in revenue

January 25, 2003|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,SUN STAFF

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. said yesterday that it expects its fourth-quarter earnings to be better than it initially predicted.

The Hunt Valley company said an improved advertising environment helped it exceed previous guidance for net broadcast revenue, broadcast cash flow and after-tax cash flow for the quarter that ended Dec. 31.

Sinclair expects net broadcast revenue of $189.4 million, 16.8 percent more than in the fourth quarter last year, when it was $162.1 million. In November, the company had expected revenue to increase 13.6 percent to 14.8 percent.

"The television business remained stronger than we expected through the fourth quarter," said David B. Amy, Sinclair's executive vice president and chief financial officer. "The strength was in most sectors; national and local advertising were both stronger than expected."

Amy said the Christmas holiday also brought increased advertising, particularly in the retail sector.

The company expects to report broadcast cash flow of $91.7 million, a 31.2 percent increase over last year's $69.9 million in the fourth quarter. Sinclair had expected an increase of 21 percent to 23.5 percent.

After-tax cash flow is expected to be 72 cents per share, exceeding 20 cents per share in the fourth quarter last year. Previous guidance was for 50 cents to 52 cents per share.

The company, which owns or operates 62 television stations in 39 markets, will release its earnings report Feb. 13.

Sinclair stock closed yesterday at $11.69, up 30 cents or 2.63 percent in trading on the Nasdaq stock market.

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