Earnings: Media General Reports Higher Q3 Earnings Aided By Politics, Olympics; Narrows Digital Loss

This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
Looks like Media General (NYSE: MEG) reaped the most benefits possible from the politics-Olympics combo in Q3 but it will be a tough performance to repeat. Under fire from activist investor Harbinger and others, the company nearly tripled earnings$6.1 million, or $.28 per share, compared with $2.5 million, or $.11 cents per share, in Q307. Revenues dropped 10.9 percent to $193.7 million from $217 million the previous year. (The earnings release is a bit of a mess, trying to showcase results from continuing operations versus the full monty including five TV stations that "have been or will be sold.") Among the factors contributing to this quarters performance: the job cuts and other belt-tightening cut operating costs by nearly 10 percent; broadcast profits rose 24.5 percent; and the results don't include the losses from the newsprint division sold off earlier this year.

Interactive: A mixed bag ... revenue rose 9 percent, aided by a 29 percent increase in local advertising and a "strong performance" by DealTaker.com, acquired in Q1. But it's still in the red albeit a smaller loss: $336,000 compared with a $1 million loss last year (excluding a writedown). Some more concrete results from the Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Newspaper Consortium: "the partnership with Yahoo!HotJobs generated $1.7 million in revenues in the quarter, helping to mitigate a 12 percent decrease in Classified revenues." The company attributes the local ad increases to "a continued focus on direct sales, increased staffing and training" leading to "growth in banners and sponsorships." But national and regional dropped 11 percent "due to softer advertising from national agencies, particularly at TBO.com in Tampa."

Warning: slow growth ahead: Blockdot's declining advergaming revenues in Q3 "reflected a slower pace of incoming projects, as a result of the weaker economy, compared with the same 2007 period."

Earnings release | Webcast (11 a.m. eastern)

By Staci D. Kramer