Belo reported total revenue of $166 million in Q3, which was $10 million or 5.7% lower than Q3 2012 as the company fought tough political comps—political dollars were $15 million less than Q3 2012, and $13.4 million of non-returning Olympics revenue on the company’s NBC-affiliated stations in Q3 2012. Total revenue excluding political in the quarter was actually 3.1% higher than the third quarter of 2012.
Belo scored net earnings per share of $0.18 in quarter compared to $0.24 in Q3 2012. The numbers include costs, net of tax, associated with the company’s pending merger with Gannett, of $2.1 million, or $0.02 per share.
Core spot revenue was down 1.3% with a decrease in national spot of 3% and local spot basically flat. Major advertising categories that were up in the quarter included travel, automotive and furniture, which were up 13%, 4% and 4%, respectively. Ad categories that were down in the quarter included retail, restaurants and grocery, which were down 11%, 8% and 6%, respectively.
Political revenue in the quarter were $2.6 million, compared to $17.7 million in Q3 2012. Total spot revenue, including political, was down 11.5% vs. Q3 2012.
Other revenue–Internet advertising, retransmission revenue, and barter and trade advertising–was up 21% in the quarter, including a 20% increase in Internet ad revenue and a 28% increase in retransmission revenue.
Marci Ryvicker, Wells Fargo Senior Analyst, said Belo’s Q3 revenue was “above our expectations all around. Total revenue of $166M (-5.7%) was better than our $159M (-9.9%) and the Street’s $161M (-8.5%), with better than expected core advertising, political, and websites…Q3 expenses were better than expected. The big beat came from station opex ($51M v. $55M) and station salaries, wages, and employee benefits, coming in slightly better ($55.1M v. our $55.3M).
BOTTOM LINE: Q3 beat with much better than expected revenue and cost management.”