Primedia reports $20 million loss

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New York--After garnering headlines with the resignation of chairman-CEO Thomas S. Rogers and the pending sale of Seventeen, Primedia Inc. released its first-quarter financial results Thursday under more scrutiny than usual.

The parent of Primedia Business Magazines & Media posted a net loss of $20.2 million, compared with a $506.5 million net loss in the first quarter of last year, which included a $388.5 million charge due to a change in accounting procedures.

Primedia reported $375.8 million in revenue for this year's first quarter, down slightly from $378 million a year earlier.

Thanks to aggressive cost cutting, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) totaled $43 million in the first quarter compared with $14.3 million a year earlier.

Primedia’s b-to-b segment, which includes Primedia Business Magazines & Media, posted sales of $73.5 million for the first quarter, down 9.1% from the same period last year. Cost cuts, however, helped boost EBITDA for the segment to $2.3 million, up from $900,000 in the first quarter of 2002.

New Primedia Chairman Dean B. Nelson used Thursday's report to dispel the speculation that Primedia’s strategy involves the widespread sale of assets.

“There is no imperative to sell assets,” Nelson said in a statement. “We always have and always will view selective divestitures as one of our levers to reduce debt and create shareholder value. Moreover, the fundamental way we are looking to drive shareholder value is through profitable growth of our operations.”

Nelson also said that President and Interim CEO Charles McCurdy is a candidate for permanent CEO.

--Sean Callahan

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