Belo takes a Q3 hit, but looking forward to 2012


Next year television group Belo Corporation expects to benefit from its NBC affiliates and their telecasts of the Olympics and the Super Bowl. Political will be back, and automotive is expected to be greatly improved. But that will all be too late to prevent a 7.2% loss in total revenue for Q3 2011.

The company went from $163.9M to $152.0M in the quarter, largely due to the usual reason – loss of political revenue, which accounted for most but not all of the top-line loss, dropping from $11.2M to $2.1M.

Commented President/CEO Dunia A. Shive, “Belo reported solid earnings for the third quarter of 2011, while cycling against more than $11 million of political revenue in the third quarter of 2010. Excluding political, Belo’s third quarter 2011 core spot revenue was down 2 percent from the prior year, with July being the softest month of the quarter and both August and September showing sequential improvement in year-to-year revenue comparisons. The automotive category in the third quarter of 2011 was flat when compared with the third quarter of 2010, with a 7 percent increase in the month of September and continued momentum into the fourth quarter. The Company reduced its combined station and corporate operating costs by 3.7 percent from the third quarter of 2010.”

Net earnings came home at 13 cents per share.

The demise of Oprah Winfrey’s syndicated program actually helped Belo hold the line on expenses. It has been running Winfrey on 11 of its 20 stations, and has replaced it with a variety of local and syndicated programming.

Shive said the that Belo is certainly open to making acquisitions on both the television and digital side, and noted that the multiples on recent television group acquisitions show general confidence in the broadcast television business. However, she declined to discuss whether or not Belo had kicked the tires in any of the deals executed by other buyers.

The company is expecting a near term improvement in revenues in the 3-4% range, excluding the political category. Shive was confident about 2012 thanks to the big sporting events on NBC previously mentioned, and the fact that political spending is “recession-proof.” She also said projections on better automotive spending are based on the solid foundation of reports indicating that unit sales are likely to increase. And of course, it is unlikely that a huge car-manufacturing region will be hit by another tsunami.