Originally created 05/05/04

Largest US radio station operator posts first-quarter profit



SAN ANTONIO -- Clear Channel Communications Inc.'s earnings grew 64 percent for the first quarter to $116.5 million, buoyed by asset sales and strong outdoor advertising revenue.

The nation's largest radio station operator said Tuesday it earned 19 cents per share during the January-March period was up from $71 million, or 12 cents a share, for the year-ago period.

San Antonio-based Clear Channel said revenue rose to $1.97 billion from $1.78 billion in the same period one year ago.

"Our results this quarter highlight the tremendous operating leverage of our businesses in an improving revenue environment," Mark Mays, president and chief operating officer, said in a prepared statement. "We realized impressive revenue gains in each of our operating divisions, and were successful in translating this performance into cash flow and earnings growth.

"With the economy strengthening and the advertising environment continuing to improve, we are ideally positioned to deliver impressive growth for the remainder of the year and beyond."

Mays also disclosed that Clear Channel chairman and chief executive Lowry Mays underwent surgery Friday afternoon for a blood clot and bleeding in his brain. The surgery was successful, Mark Mays said, and doctors expect a complete recovery.

The company said its quarterly earnings included $47 million and $11.6 million of pre-tax gains related to sale of Clear Channel's remaining investment in Univision Communications and its sale of radio operating assets. Offsetting the gains was a $31.4 million pre-tax loss on early extinguishment of debt, the company said in its statement.

Net income, excluding those items, would have been $100.3 million or 16 cents a share, a 33 percent increase over 2003's first quarter per-share earnings.

Thomson First Call said that beat the 14 cents a share estimate by analysts it surveyed.

Outdoor advertising revenue rose 16 percent to $521.6 million, compared to the year-ago period, fueled by strong domestic bulletin and international street furniture and billboard revenues.