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

Shares of Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ: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.

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.

Sinclair was battling with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: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.