Saga FY up 3.3%, sans political; Q4 down 5%

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Saga Communications, Inc.Saga Communications’ FY revenue was down only 1% on $129.5 million compared to $130.3 million for the same period last year.  Gross revenue exclusive of political revenue increased 3.3% for the year.  Political revenue decreased to $0.8 million in 2013 compared to $6.7 million in 2012. For Q4, net revenue decreased 5% to $33.8 million, from $35.5 million in Q4 2012.


For the quarter, station operating expense increased $2.7 million (3.0%) to $93.0 million (station operating expense includes depreciation and amortization attributable to the stations).  $1.3 million of this increase was due to a $0.8 million increase in music licensing fees and a $0.5 million increase in health insurance costs. Operating income from continuing operations was $26.3 million.  Net income for the period was $15.3 million ($2.64 per fully diluted share) and free cash flow was $21.6 million.

Net operating revenue decreased 5.0% from the comparable period in 2012 to $33.8 million.  Political revenue decreased to $0.4 million in 2013 compared to $4.0 million in 2012.  Station operating expense increased $0.2 million to $23.8 million for the quarter (station operating expense includes depreciation and amortization attributable to the stations).  Operating income from continuing operations was $5.7 million.  Net income for the period was $3.2 million ($0.56 per fully diluted share) and free cash flow was $5.6 million.

Capital expenditures in the quarter were $1.7 million compared to $1.0 million for the same period last year.  For the 2013 fiscal year total capital expenditures were $5.2 million compared to $4.9 million for the comparable period last year.  The company currently expects to spend $5.5 million on cap ex during 2014.

Saga’s net operating revenue from television came in at $5.2 million in Q4, compared to $5 million in Q4 2012. For FY, TV net operating revenue was $19.7 million, up from $18.5 million in 2012.

Noted Saga CEO Ed Christian: “I was hoping for a little better in Q4. We can always do a little better.” And on the frigid and snow-filled weather in many Saga markets, “I really don’t need to tell you what the last four months have been like in those markets. This limited us in Q4, and certainly in the first part of Q1.”

Q1 is pacing up 2%. Looking ahead, Christian said the National Retail Federation is predicting increases in retail sales for 2014. “We have a number of initiatives that are coming up, that are on the drawing board right now, to enhance our revenue for the year.”


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.