Fueled by political ad money, Q4 net revenues shot up 20% to $206.2 million at Belo Corporation. Full year net revenues were up 16.5% to $687.4 million.
Spot revenues were up 22% in Q4, primarily due to a $26.9 million increase in political advertising. Local gained 1.2% and national 7.1%, although the company noted that some regular advertising was crowded out by political. “Other revenues,” including such things as Internet advertising and retransmission consent revenues, were up 13%.
RBR-TVBR calculated that Q4 station operating income improved 33.9% to $97.6 million.
In her published comments ahead of an afternoon conference call with Wall Street analysts, CEO Dunia Shive was upbeat about the company’s 2011 outlook.
“We currently expect to see continued recovery in advertising as long as the economy does not experience an unanticipated setback. We expect spot revenue excluding political to grow in 2011, but at a more moderate rate than in 2010. Comparables will be difficult in the first quarter of 2011 as we cycle against a 17 percent increase in spot advertising revenue in the first quarter of 2010, which benefited from $8.4 million in Olympics revenue, $6.3 million in political revenue, and $2.3 million in Super Bowl revenue from our five CBS affiliates compared to the Super Bowl airing on our one Fox affiliate in 2011. Despite these 2010 items, we still expect combined local and national spot advertising revenue to grow in the low-single digits in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010, and total spot revenue including political to be down in the low-single digits,” Shive said.
Asked for more detail about Q1 in her conference call with analysts, Shive said January was up 8%, but that February is expected to be down, owing to not having the Super Bowl on its CBS stations nor the Olympics on its NBC stations, along with the lack of political advertising. March, though, is pacing up.