Hearst-Argyle posts fourth-quarter loss

Station group will suspend quarterly dividend

NEW YORK -- TV station group Hearst-Argyle Television swung to a fourth-quarter loss due to a big impairment and said it would suspend its quarterly dividend of 7 cents per share to conserve cash amid the recession and credit crunch.

The owner or operator of 29 TV stations said Wednesday that it fell to a $552 million loss in the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $33.6 million in the year-ago quarter. The latest figure included a $926 million pretax noncash impairment charge to write down the value of its assets and a $5.7 million severance charge for reducing 200 positions.

Fourth-quarter revenue dropped 9% to $197 million as advertising revenue fell.

Hearst-Argyle said it expects continued challenges because of the recession. The stock was down more than 11% as of 12:45 p.m. ET.
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