MSG Scores in 1Q Despite Lower Sales at The Garden

Madison Square Garden (NYSE:MSG) revealed on Friday a stronger-than-expected increase in first-quarter profit despite a sharp drop in revenues stemming from the temporary closure of The Garden for renovations.

The parent of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers said it earned $21.29 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with $19.26 million, or 25 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had been expecting a profit of just 10 cents a share.

Revenue for the three months ended Sept. 30 was $177.6 million, down 6.9% from $190.8 million a year ago, trumping the Street’s view of $174 million.

The company said its results reflect the planned shutdown of the Madison Square Garden Arena and Theatre at Madison Square Garden due to its transformation project.

“We re-opened The Garden on schedule in late October and are pleased with the progress we have made on all fronts with respect to the Transformation project,” MSG chief executive Hank Ratner said in a statement. “We remain focused on our company's business objectives and are confident in our ability to drive long-term growth."

The group chalked up the loss in sales primarily to a decrease in revenues in the MSG Entertainment and MSG Sports segments, partially offset by gains in the MSG Media group.

Fees in its media segment increased by $4.5 million on higher affiliation rates. However, the overall increase was “significantly offset” by the impact of the previously disclosed expiration of certain affiliation agreements, the company said. Advertising revenues increased $1.2 million.

MSG Entertainment was hit by a 27.7% drop in revenue due to lower event-related revenues at The Garden as part of its planned shutdown in the offseason for renovations. MSG Sports fell 21.9%, also because of the temporary closure.