Entercom Q1 down 21%; “We may have hit bottom in March”


Entercom Communications’ Q1 highlights saw net revenues decreasing 21% to $75.4 million and station operating expenses down 8% to $58.5 million. Station operating income decreased 47% to $16.9 million; and EBITDA decreased 51% to $12.9 million. Adjusted net income per share decreased to $0.0 and free cash flow decreased 59% to $4.3 million.

Said David Field, CEO: “The best thing that can be said about the first quarter of 2009 is that it is now behind us. As you are well aware, business conditions in the first quarter were pretty awful, as we faced a perfect storm of economic challenges. Based on these conditions, we posted a 21% decline in net revenue for the quarter.”

Field noted a few of their markets bucked the trend, and posted impressive results–Denver, Wichita, Madison and Buffalo. “Local and national revenues were both down essentially in line with our overall results, while digital revenues were up significantly during the quarter.”

Entercom’s strongest-growing categories for the quarter were grocery, drug stores, restaurants/fast-food and professional services. The weakest categories were automotive, political, television, financial and retail.

“We were quite pleased with the Winter ratings books,” said Field. “Most significantly, Boston became our second market to initiate Arbitron’s PPM methodology and the results were stellar. As usual, WEEI had a terrific book, but what was more noteworthy was the significant growth in our other Boston brands. Mike FM jumped to #4 A 25-54; and #3 with Men 25-54. WRKO surged to #4 with Men 25-54 and #2 with Men 18-49.”

Field closed by mentioning they are “absolutely determined” to emerge from the economic storm with stronger capabilities, an enhanced competitive position and an improved business model…And during the business conditions we’ve been experiencing meaningful improvement in business activity over the past several weeks. It appears as though we may have hit bottom in the end of March. Having said that, we need to keep this in sober perspective….Finally, as we look to the future, we remain enthused about our longer-term growth prospects, based upon very strong consumer radio usage trends and radio’s outstanding value proposition to customers. Radio posted an all-time record number of listeners in 2008 and remains the most cost-effective major advertising medium in the country.”

So far, said Field, Q2 pacings remain well behind last year, but he reiterated that progress has been good in the past few weeks.