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USA Networks Posts Loss

January 30, 2002|CORIE BROWN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

USA Networks Inc., Barry Diller's media and electronic-retailing company, Tuesday reported a wider fourth-quarter loss as advertising sales declined at the company's cable television networks.

The company lost $49.4 million, or 13 cents a share, compared with a $32.9-million loss, or 9 cents, a year earlier.

Based largely on the success of USA's online retailing operations, revenue at the New York-based company was $1.35 billion.

"The ad market is exactly the way it was before, which is not good," said Diller, chairman of USA Networks.

In late December, USA Networks agreed to sell its entertainment assets--USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel, as well as the company's television and film-production units--to Vivendi Universal for about $10.3 billion. Diller will be chief executive of Vivendi Universal Entertainment.

After the Vivendi Universal deal closes, USA Networks will be renamed USA Interactive and will include USA's online businesses, such as Ticketmaster Inc., Match .com and Citysearch Web sites. USA Networks also has agreed to buy travel service Expedia Inc.

In the latest quarter, USA's entertainment unit, with TV shows such as "Law & Order," films such as "Gosford Park" and USA Network TV channel, suffered a 15% drop in revenue to $357 million.

Cash flow from the interactive division was $120.3 million, up 33% from the year-earlier period.

"The fourth-quarter numbers were strong," said SG Cowen analyst Peter Mirsky. "Perhaps more importantly [the results] went a long way [toward] validating his travel strategy, for which they got slammed earlier."

USA Networks shares gained $1.56 to close at $29.20 on Nasdaq.

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Times wire services were used in compiling this report.

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