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Profit dips for Emmis despite boost from new stations

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Revenue for Emmis Communications Corp. spiked in its first quarter due to the blockbuster purchase of two New York City radio stations, but in the end profit for the broadcasting and publishing firm sank.

The nation’s ninth-largest radio group on Wednesday reported that radio revenue for the quarter ending May 31 rose 22 percent from the same quarter last year, from $36.9 million to $45 million. That included results from New York stations WBLS-FM 107.5 and WLIB-AM 1190, which Emmis recently purchased for $131 million and began operating on March 31.

However, if the results for WBLS and WLIB from last year were taken into account, revenue for Emmis’ first quarter this year would have been flat, the company said.

Indianapolis-based Emmis owns 19 FM and four AM stations. Local stations include WIBC-FM 93.1, WYXB-FM 105.7 and WLHK-FM 97.1. It also publishes a number of magazines tailored for major cities, including Indianapolis Monthly.

Revenue for Emmis’ publishing arm rose about 7 percent in the quarter, from $13.7 million to $14.7 million. Operating income for the company as a whole dipped 6 percent, from $7 million to $6.6 million.

The bottom line: First-quarter profit fell 74 percent, from $3.7 million to $956,000.

CEO Jeff Smulyan said that although the firm’s markets “continue to be tested,” Emmis expects growth to reignite with its NextRadio initiative.

NextRadio allows certain smart phones and tablets to pick up local stations from the airwaves, versus streaming music over the phone’s Web browser, which consumes data minutes allocated to a customer’s phone plan.

“It’s a game-changer for the radio industry,” Smulyan said in prepared comments.

In trading Wednesday morning, Emmis shares hovered close to their previous close of $2.81. By 11:30 a.m., shares were up 1 cent to $2.82.
 

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