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Emmis’ quarterly profit rises on sale of station

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Emmis Communications Corp. reported a big profit in its latest quarter thanks to the sale of a radio station in Los Angeles.

The Indianapolis-based media company said Thursday morning that it earned $38.1 million, or 98 cents per share, in the fiscal second quarter ended Aug. 31 compared with a loss of $8.6 million, or 22 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Much of Emmis’ profit stemmed from the Aug. 23 sale of KXOS-FM in Los Angeles for $85.5 million, from which the company reported a gain from discontinued operations of $32.8 million.

Revenue fell 6.2 percent to $57.6 percent.

Emmis attributed the revenue decline to the September 2011 sale of its portion of Merlin Media LLC to a private-equity firm for $120 million. The stations are not considered discontinued operations because Emmis still retains a non-controlling equity ownership stake in them.

Excluding the sale, radio revenue would have increased $600,000, or 1.6 percent, in the second quarter, Emmis said.

“We continue to take steps to improve our balance sheet,” CEO Jeff Smulyan said in a note to employees. “We are actively pursuing a refinancing of our entire capital structure that will dramatically reduce our interest expense and increase our free cash flow going forward.”

Total radio revenue for the quarter fell 7.6 percent to $44.6 million. Revenue from publishing operations dipped nearly 1 percent, to $13 million.

“While the picture is dramatically improved over just a year ago, I want to be clear that we must be vigilant and continue to keep a tight rein on costs,” Smulyan wrote in his note. “We don’t want to increase expenses when the industries we are in are only growing slightly.”

Emmis owns 18 radio stations nationwide, and six city and specialty magazines. Locally, it operates WFNI-AM 1070, WIBC-FM 93.1, WLHK-FM 97.1 and WYXB-FM 105.7, as well as Indianapolis Monthly magazine.

Company shares opened trading Thursday morning at $2.08, down from their 52-week high of $2.57 in late August.
 

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