Double digit declines for Journal; Q1 also down


Cost control efforts came up more than once in the company’s quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts as Journal Communications reported Q4 results that came in below expectations. CEO Steve Smith also noted that the company had divested some non-core assets in 2007, including its former telecommunications business, and is focused on its local markets and digital initiatives. Although the publishing side is now experiencing the cost benefits of staff reductions taken in Q4, the company told analysts to expect publishing revenues to be down, reflecting continuing challenges in classified advertising, partially offset by continued strength in online, commercial printing and commercial distribution,” but CFO Paul Bonaiuto didn’t quantify just how much print revenues will be down this quarter. He said both radio and television revenues are expected to be down slightly.

Q4 revenues for Journal Broadcast Group were down 19.2% to 56.7 million and operating earnings plunged 55.2% to 10.3 million. The company noted, though, that if you exclude the quarter’s extra week in 2006 and political revenues, broadcast revenues were down only 0.7% for the quarter. Of course, political spending will be back this year, mostly in the second half, and Smith was also upbeat on the broadcast group’s focus on developmental revenues, which were up 17% in 2007.

Radio revenues fell 13.8% in Q4 to 21.4 million. Excluding the extra week and political, revenues were off 1.2 million. Operating earnings for radio were down 40.6% to 5.4 million, but that falls to a drop of 18.3% excluding the gain on the sale of a station in Q4 of 2006.

TV revenues in Q4 were down 22.1% to 35.3 million and operating earnings dropped 64.8% to 4.9 million. Excluding the extra week and political, TV revenues were up a million bucks.