Feb. 12--Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. capped a year of strong broadcast revenue growth and station acquisitions with a 33 percent jump in fourth quarter sales but a drop in profit as the Hunt Valley company paid off debt.
The broadcaster reported income of $2.3 million, or 2 cents per share, in the three months ending Dec. 31, compared to net income of $59 million, or 72 cents per share, in the final three months of 2012.
Its shares slid nearly 5 percent to $26.52 in morning Nasdaq trading.
The profit decrease included a $42.1 million loss from debt extinguishment. Excluding that loss, earnings would have been 29 cents per share.
Revenues for October-to-December grew 33 percent to $382.3 million, compared with $287.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Sinclair CEO David Smith called the year historic, one in which the company reached a record $1.2 billion in sales, a 32 percent jump, and led the industry in station acquisitions, closing on the purchase of 63 television stations.
Fourth quarter operating income dipped 13 percent, to $103.3 million, which the company attributed to a lack of political revenues in a non-election year, one-time acquisitions costs and a $3.3 million loss on the sale of a station in Syracuse, N.Y.
The quarter's fastest growing categories for advertising sales included automotive, medical, grocery, entertainment and home products, while retail, restaurants and telecommunications advertising declined.
The company has been on a television station buying binge. In the fourth quarter, closed deals included the purchase of 18 stations owned by Barrington Broadcasting Group LLC for $370 million.
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