Sinclair Broadcast Group said yesterday that it had a fourth-quarter profit as the advertising climate improved.
The Hunt Valley company, which owns or operates 62 television stations in 39 markets, posted net income of $23.5 million, or 27 cents per diluted share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 31. For the year-earlier quarter, the company had a net loss of $46.1 million, or 55 cents per diluted share.
"We continued to see strengthening in the core business during the fourth quarter, even after the significant inflow of political advertising revenues," David Smith, Sinclair's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The company also said it performed well on two key indicators of success in the broadcast industry.
Broadcast cash flow was $91.7 million, a 31 percent increase from $69.9 million last year. Net broadcast revenue was $189.4 million, a 16.8 percent increase from last year's $162.1 million.
For the year, the company had net broadcast revenue of $670.5 million, broadcast cash flow of $293.5 million and a net loss of $574.8 million.
Both local and national advertising helped boost fourth-quarter earnings, company officials said.
Local advertising revenue increased 12.2 percent, and national advertising increased 22.6 percent for the quarter, compared with the corresponding quarter in 2001.
Sinclair officials said they expect the positive results to continue in the first quarter.
The company plans to roll out a news product that it hopes will grab more political revenue next year, and will try to attract nontraditional advertisers to its stations - a strategy Sinclair said brought in $7 million of new business last year.
Sinclair expects net broadcast revenue for the first quarter to increase to about 7 percent from the first quarter of last year, when it brought in $144.5 million.