February 13, 2008 / 2:51 PM / 12 years ago

UPDATE 1-Belo profit drops more than expected

(Adds charges, outlook, segment results, background, estimate)

NEW YORK, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Belo Corp BLC.N, the media company that is spinning off its newspaper business, on Wednesday posted lower-than-expected quarterly earnings as it suffered from the depressed newspaper advertising market.

The results included impairment charges relating to The Providence Journal, The Press-Enterprise, and television station WHAS-TV in Louisville, leading to a net loss of $333.4 million for the fourth quarter.

Excluding items, depressed newspaper advertising dragged fourth-quarter profit down to $33.1 million, or 32 cents per share, from $51.3 million, or 50 cents per share, in the period a year ago.

Wall Street had been forecasting earnings of 37 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company, which is spinning off newspaper group A. H. Belo, said revenue fell 6.8 percent to $407 million but came in slightly ahead of analyst expectations.

The television division’s total revenue dropped 2.4 percent in the quarter due to lower political revenue while newspaper revenue fell 11 percent.

For 2008, when the companies will be separate, A.H. Belo expects ad revenue to be down. For its part, Belo Corp expects revenues to be up in the mid- to high-single digits in percentage terms, it said. The company issued the same forecast last month.

Dallas-based Belo is splitting apart to convince investors of the value of its broadcasting business without worrying them because of the ad losses that are hurting its newspapers and dragging down the entire company.

Shares of the company were up 37 cents, or 2.8 percent, at $13.82 in early trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Paul Thomasch, editing by Mark Porter/Dave Zimmerman)

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