Parent of Chronicle posts another year of record earnings
Hearst, owner of the Houston Chronicle and myriad other media properties, logged its sixth consecutive year of record profits in 2016.
Revenue at the privately held company, however, grew modestly to $10.8 billion, up from $10.7 billion in 2015.
The company got a boost from the election cycle as well as its investment in health care, said Steven R. Swartz, president and chief executive officer.
“Our 30 Hearst Television stations, aided by a strong performance in political advertising thanks to our best-in-class political coverage, and Hearst Health, our five health care data and software platform companies, led the way with outstanding revenue and profit growth,” he wrote in a letter to employees released Friday morning.
The company also achieved stronger yearover-year results from ESPN, Fitch Group, the Hearst Magazines division and Hearst Newspapers.
Newspaper profits were up for the fifth consecutive year, despite a challenging environment for the newspaper industry and an oil recession in Houston, which is Hearst’s largest newspaper market.
Hearst companies and divisions made more than $2 billion in acquisitions in 2016, growing revenues and profits — a spree it expects to continue throughout 2017. The company also spent nearly $200 million on capital projects to strengthen its businesses.
Hearst’s largest deal of the year was for CAMP, a corporate aircraft maintenance and safety data and software company.
Other deals included: a majority stake in Litton Entertainment, the leading producer of educational television; a majority stake in Med-HOK, a software platform company that helps health plans manage patients; Work Loss Data Institute, a family-run company that provides crucial health care data to the workers’ compensation industry; and Polyglot Systems, which simplifies drug information for patients and then translates that data into 22 languages.
Hearst Newspapers acquired Houston Community Newspapers to help better serve the market around the Houston Chronicle. It agreed to acquire The Pioneer Group to enhance its newspaper business in Michigan. And it purchased The Hour and Wilton Villager, adding to its newspaper group in Fairfield County, Conn.
“While Hearst has always been and always will be a media company, the share of its profits coming from business data and software systems has grown to an expected 25 percent for 2017,” Swartz wrote. “Thus today, Hearst can truly say it is an information, entertainment and services company, and that diversification of businesses and skills is one of its great competitive advantages.”