Nexstar, which has grown from a single radio station 23 years ago into what will soon be the No. 1 owner of local TV stations in the U.S., reported record revenue of $798 million in the fourth quarter.
Boosted by political ad spending, which was more than triple the level of the 2014 mid-term elections, total revenue rose 22% from the same period in 2017.
Net income came in at $154.5 million for the period, or $3.34 a share, slightly below Wall Street estimates of $3.40 a share.
Last December, Nexstar announced plans to acquire Tribune Media for $4.1 billion, snatching a prize asset away from rival Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair’s deal to acquire Tribune hit the rocks earlier in 2018 due to a series of what government regulators viewed as questionable transactions related to disposal of station assets.
The company expects the Tribune deal to close by the end of the third quarter of 2019.
Digital media and retransmission fee revenue increased 10.5% to $349.6 million for Nexstar in the quarter ending December 31. On a full-year basis, revenue in that category gained 13.1% to $1.4 billion, marking the first time in Nexstar’s history that the combined metric exceeded advertising revenue.
Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said the results “highlight the ongoing success of our strategies focused on leveraging our local content and community involvement to generate record shares of political spending in our markets, as well as continued distribution and digital revenue growth.”
Sinclair will release its quarterly financial results on Wednesday.