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CLEAR CHANNEL TUNES IN LOSS

Goodwill Rule Bad, Radio Ad Rebound Good
Clear Channel has reported a loss of $16.7 billion for the first quarter, thanks to the same accounting-rule change that recently bit AOL Time Warner and Vivendi Universal on their substantial hindquarters. The new rule requires companies to write down decreases in the value of acquisitions all at once rather than over a period of years.

The loss of $16.7 billion, or $27.62 per share, on revenue of $1.7 billion, is up from last year’s Q1 loss of $309 million, or 53 cents per share on revenue of $1.63 billion.

If the company hadn’t had to write off $16.8 billion (leading to the $16.7 billion loss), Clear Channel would have reported earnings of $90 million, or 15 cents per share. But that’s living in a fantasy world, and our headshrinker tells us that’s unhealthy.

Now for the good news: Clear Channel’s mammoth radio operation posted a 3% increase in revenue for the quarter, compared to the same period last year. This is good because it means the flow of advertising dollars is increasing for the first time in many, many moons.

The company is expecting second-quarter earnings to be slightly behind Q2 2001 at $600 to $615 million, in part because its billboard business hasn’t yet bounced back from the ad slump.

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