Niche channels lead way in Scripps' Q2

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E.W. Scripps Co. credited the popularity of its lifestyle pay TV channels for more than offsetting weakness in newspapers as the company reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit Tuesday.

The company offered current-quarter guidance below what analysts were expecting, and shares fell 6.1% on Tuesday to $44.04.

The company said second-quarter net income rose to $97.5 million, from $71.1 million a year ago. Revenue fell slightly, from $642 million last year to $640 million.

Dragging results down was its newspaper division, where profit fell 40% to $33.2 million on revenue that shrunk from $182 million to $166 million. Results there included an $8.9 million charge for 137 employees who took a voluntary severance from the newspaper group.

Meanwhile, Scripps Television Station Group saw revenue fall 2% because of a lack of political advertising, and Scripps Interactive Media revenue fell 9% because of weakness at the unit's Shopzilla and uSwitch properties.

Scripps Networks was the star performer again. While acknowledging weakness in total-day ratings at HGTV and Food Network, the company nevertheless reported strong revenue gains in those and other lifestyle TV properties. The unit took in $308 million in quarterly revenue, up 7.6% year-over-year.

"Advertising and affiliate fee revenue grew during the three-month period as our networks continue to capitalize on their dominance in the shelter and food content categories," Scripps CEO Kenneth Lowe said.

Revenue for its Great American Country channel surged 40%, Fine Living jumped 22% and DIY Network was up 4%. Operating revenue at HGTV and Food Network were each up 7%.

"I think the best way to characterize the second quarter is to describe our results as mixed," CFO Joseph NeCastro said Tuesday during a conference call.
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