E.W. Scripps Co. shares rise after Q4 earnings report

Scripps looking for more acquisitions

CINCINNATI - E.W. Scripps Co. posted a $7.9 million profit on revenue of $220.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, beating analyst expectations by a penny per share and exceeding revenue expectations by $4.4 million.

For the full year, Scripps posted a $474,000 loss on revenue of $816.9 million.

Highlights of the quarter included a 5 percent increase in newspaper subscription revenue and a 17 percent increase in core local and national television advertising.

Scripps is the Cincinnati-based parent company of WCPO, with 19 television stations and newspapers in 13 cities. Scripps shares increased more than 13 percent to $22.54 in early trading Tuesday.

In a conference call with analysts, Scripps executives revealed an appetite for additional acquisitions. The company announced the $110 million purchase of TV stations in Detroit and Buffalo on Feb. 10. Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of television, said Scripps is looking for strategic acquisitions that increase market share in cities with growth potential.

“I don’t think we share the same roll up strategies as some of our peers,” said Lawlor. “We don’t plan to get bigger just for the sake of getting bigger … It’s really about strategic fit and getting into markets with good economic bases.”

Scripps is one of several local companies actively pursuing mergers and acquisitions, as WCPO recently reported . Scripps finished 2013 with $221 million in cash and $200 million in debt. CEO Rich Boehne said the company could borrow more for the right deal but it will be careful to not take on too much leverage.

“We want to be able to make digital investments which we think are essential and a great opportunity,” he said. “We would not want to lever up to the point where we have covenants in place or any restrictions that just box us in.”

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