Analyst applauds Saga’s numbers


Revenues were in line with expectations for Q4, but Wachovia Capital Markets analyst Marci Ryvicker was impressed that expenses at Saga Communications came in below her expectations. She’s still expecting 2009 revenues to be down, but she’s raised her EBITDA and free cash flow (FCF) projections, due to the successful cost cutting.

Ryvicker noted that EBITDA of $9 million for the quarter was better than the $8 million she had forecast. And FCF was “significantly better,” at $1.38 per share instead of the expected 50 cents.

So, she’s raised her estimates for 2009: “We anticipate that, like its peers, SGA will engage in significant cost cuts given the difficult environment.  We left our 2009 rev as-is, at $129M (-8%), with radio -8% and television -7%.  However, we are also reducing our opex and capex assumptions.  We now anticipate that radio opex will decline by 4.5% (versus -2%) and TV opex will decline by 3% (vs. 0%), resulting in overall opex down 4% (vs. -1.7%).  This results in EBITDA of $28.6M (-17%) versus our prior $24.3M (-27%) expectation. We are also cutting our capex assumption to $4M from $6M, resulting in FCF per share of $4.12 vs. our prior $2.19 estimate.”