Sinclair Jumps to 4Q Profit on Political, Super Bowl Ads

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Shares of Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI) surged to a 52-week high on Wednesday after the company said it swung to a fourth-quarter profit over a year ago loss and beat Wall Street revenue estimates, driven primarily by higher sales of political and Super Bowl ads.

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The Hunt Valley, Md-based company posted net income of $33.1 million, or 41 cents a share, compared with a loss of $67.6 million, or 85 cents a share, in the same quarter last year, and just ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 40 cents.

Revenue for the television broadcasting company was $225.5 million, up 23% from $183.3 million a year ago, trumping the Street’s view of $210.5 million.

Sales were attributed by the company to a 23.5% increase in broadcast revenues, led by record levels of political advertising, and a rebound in its automotive segment. Political revenues were $26.8 million, up a whopping 575% from the year-earlier period. Revenues related to the Super Bowl, which aired on 20 FOX affiliates, climbed 26.5%.

“We expect to see continued improvement in our core advertising, driving our top-line in 2011,” said Sinclair CEO David Smith.

Due to the company’s optimistic outlook, its board reinstated and declared a dividend of 12 cents a share, payable on March 15. Through 2011, the company anticipates continued broadcasting revenue growth.

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Sinclair was battling with Time Warner Cable (TWC) through January over subscriber fees. Sinclair had argued the raises were necessary to tackle rising programming costs. The talks were finally settled late last month.