Madison Square Garden Quarterly Earnings Rise, Beat Expectations

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James Dolan, of the Dolan family, which controls Madison Square Garden.

The company, controlled by the Dolan family, reported stronger results at its MSG TV networks unit, but financials for its live-event entertainment venues unit dropped.

The Madison Square Garden Co., controlled by the Dolan family that also owns cable operator Cablevision Systems, reported on Wednesday higher fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that exceeded Wall Street estimates.

MSG said its quarterly profit of $36.4 million compared with $28.6 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted operating cash flow, another profitability metric, jumped 19 percent to $92.2 million. Quarterly revenue of $336.4 million rose 1 percent, but cost discipline boosted the bottom line further.

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The company cited improvements at its MSG Media unit, which houses its MSG sports networks and cable channel Fuse, and its MSG Sports segment, home of the NHL's New York Rangers and NBA's New York Knicks.

The TV networks posted higher carriage fee and advertising revenue amid solid ratings. Analysts also cited lower-than-expected programming cost increases at Fuse.

Results at its live-event entertainment venues unit, which includes the likes of Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan and the Forum in Los Angeles, were lower. The company cited "lower event-related revenues at the company's venues, mainly the result of fewer theater events."

Full-year earnings rose from $106.5 million to $142.4 million as revenue climbed 4 percent to $1.3 billion. Fiscal year adjusted operating profit jumped 26 percent to $355.6 million.

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"We concluded fiscal 2013 with a solid fourth quarter, capping off another record year of revenues and adjusted operating cash flow for our company as we continue to benefit from the combined strength of our fully integrated media, entertainment and sports business," said president and CEO Hank Ratner said. "This fall, we will reach one of the most important moments in Madison Square Garden's history as we debut a completely transformed arena that will continue to deliver multiple benefits for our company."

This will be followed in early 2014 with the re-opening of a renovated Forum arena, which will mark the company's venue expansion to the West Coast.

Stifel, Nicolaus analyst Benjamin Mogil, in a first reaction, said the financials "were ahead of our expectations, which were well ahead of [Wall Street] consensus."

He maintained his "buy" rating and $65 price target on the stock.

Twitter: @georgszalai