Quarterly profit, revenue slides at Emmis

Emmis Communications Corp. reported a larger loss on lower revenue in its latest quarter, largely due to last year's sale of a group of radio stations and cheaper advertising rates.

The Indianapolis-based media company said Thursday morning that  it lost $5 million, or 13 cents per share, in the fiscal first quarter ended May 31 compared with $4.6 million, or 12 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Revenue fell 7.1 percent, to $56.8 million.

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.

The two Chicago stations and one New York station involved in the Merlin sale accounted for $25.3 million in revenue in fiscal 2011, which ended Feb. 28, and a profit of $1.4 million, Emmis said.

Excluding the sale, radio revenue would have increased $700,000, or 1.8 percent, in the fiscal first quarter, Emmis said.

Total radio revenue for the quarter fell 11 percent, to $40.4 million, as the average rate per minute for advertising dipped 2.9 percent from the fiscal first quarter in 2011. Advertising minutes sold increased 4.9 percent.

Quarterly revenue from publishing operations increased 4 percent, to 16.4 million, mostly due to the strong performance of its Texas Monthly and Los Angeles Magazine publications, Emmis said.

Emmis owns 17 FM and two AM radio stations nationwide, and seven 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 $1.79, not far off their 52-week-high closing price of $1.84.
 

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