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Los Angeles Times

May 15, 2003 Thursday Home Edition

Liberty Media Corp., the media-investment company controlled by John Malone, reported first-quarter earnings of $132 million on lower acquisition-related costs. Revenue fell 1.6%.

Net income of 5 cents a share contrasted with a net loss of $1.56 billion, or 60 cents, a year earlier, Liberty said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The 2002 loss included expenses to write down acquired assets. First-quarter revenue slipped to $505 million from $513 million as sales of TV-production services declined.

Liberty, owner of media companies including the Starz Encore cable networks, said sales fell 9% at its Ascent Media unit, which provides technical services for movies, TV shows and commercials. That was partly because networks produced more "reality" shows, which require less postproduction service, and some advertisers have cut budgets for commercials.

"The advertising business is down," said Henry Cavanna, president of Cavanna Capital Management, which manages $30 million, including Liberty shares. "We're still dealing with an economically sensitive portion of their business."

Liberty Media shares fell 8 cents to $11 on the New York Stock Exchange.