If you were a television group in the United States during the final three months of 2012, you were almost guaranteed to post very healthy comps to the same period in 2011, and Belo Corporation was certainly no exception.
Q4 revenue came home at $205M, a 14% increase over the previous year. Political was the driver on the increase, going from $5.9M to $32.4M (that’s about a 450% increase for those of you keeping score at home). The political windfall was so great that traditional advertisers were crowded off the schedule, resulting in a 3% decrease in non-political spot revenue.
The company made $715M for the full year, a $65M, or 10% increase over 2011.
President/CEO Dunia Shive commented, “The Company’s fourth quarter performance was driven by $26.5 million in incremental political revenue and continued strength in the automotive category, leading to a total spot revenue increase of 15 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011.
“Our financial performance for the full year was highlighted by record political revenue, which surpassed $60 million for the first time in the Company’s history, and significant growth in our largest advertising category, automotive, which increased 16 percent over full year 2011. The Company’s total revenue grew 10 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, while the Company’s combined station and corporate operating costs grew just 2 percent for the same period. The Company’s station-adjusted EBITDA margin was 46 percent for the fourth quarter of 2012 and 41 percent for the full year.
“The Company’s significant cash flow generation in 2012 enabled us to pay a special dividend of $0.25 in the fourth quarter in addition to increasing our regular quarterly dividend by 60 percent, to $0.08 per share, earlier in the year.”
Looking ahead, Shive said, “Based on recent pacings, we currently estimate total revenue to be up 2 to 2.5 percent versus the first quarter of 2012, with increases in core spot, retransmission and Internet revenue partially offset by lower political revenue. Due to the timing of upcoming renewals with MVPDs, the growth rate in retransmission revenue is expected to be higher in the second half of the year than in the first half of the year.