Despite a slight year-over-year decline in ratings, Wachovia analyst Marci Ryvicker notes that CBS Radio was up in the Spring Arbitron ratings from the previous book, so the changes being made by new CEO Dan Mason appear to be working. She also says Emmis may finally have hit bottom, although she’s not ready to make that a firm call.
After crunching the Arbitron numbers, Ryvicker said CBS posted a 2% year-over-year decline, but was up 1% sequentially in the key 25-54 demo. "The sequential improvements give us hope that the changes made by Dan Mason since his appointment as President and CEO of CBS Radio have resulted in rating improvements," she said in a research note, but added that she will be watching future books to see if those sequential gains are a trend. As for Emmis, following sequential share losses of 3%, 6% and 1% in the 18-34 target demo, the Spring ratings rebounded by 7%. "We take this as a positive sign but are hesitant to believe that a trend is forming due to the fact that in the Spring 2006 book Emmis showed similar signs of life, only to begin a downward spiral," Ryvicker said, so she is waiting and watching. Even with the book-to-book improvement, Emmis is still down 4% year-over-year in the 18-34 demo.
So, who does the analyst really like? Entercom has done well ratings-wise with its recent acquisitions, although the remainder of its station portfolio is still showing weakness in her view. Ryvicker expects ratings growth to return and Entercom gets her only "outperform" stock rating among the pure-play radio companies. She also believes Spanish-specialist Entravision is a good long-term investment.