Fisher Communications’ Q1 results were encouraging – with revenues of $35.3 million, an increase of $6.8 million, or 24%, compared to Q1 2009. The results included a 31% increase in television revenue. These increases were primarily due to higher advertising and retransmission consent revenue. Radio net revenue increased $367,000, or 8%, to $5.3 million
Retrans consent revenue for Q1 2009 excluded $906,000 attributable to that quarter but recorded later in the Q3 of 2009 upon execution of the contracts. If that revenue had been recordable in Q1 of 2009, the YOY increases in total revenue and television revenue would have been 20% and 25%, respectively.
Fisher’s reported net loss for the quarter was $2.2 million, compared to a $4.3 million net loss in Q1 2009. The 2010 net loss included a $940,000 pre-tax gain on the Sprint Nextel asset exchange. The company’s net loss in 2009 included a $1.8 million pre-tax gain on extinguishment of debt.
The company’s direct operating costs and selling, general and administrative expenses increased by $2.3 million, or 8%, from Q1 2009. The increase was largely attributable to higher programming fees for syndicated and network programming and increased sales commissions related to higher YOY ad revenue.
EBITDA turned positive for the quarter, at $1.8 million, an increase of $3.8 million from the negative EBITDA of $2.1 million in the first quarter of 2009.
During the Q1 conference call, Fisher President and CEO Colleen Brown said they are seeing evidence that some economic turnaround is taking hold for the first time since the recession began. “We experienced year over year growth in virtually all of our key categories. In Q1 this includes Automotive (up 55%); Professional Services (up 20%) and Retail (up 17%). And, based upon the growth we saw in Q1, we believe that the positive trends that began last December will continue. Also, the broadcast industry is expected to benefit from increased political spending during the rest of 2010…As we begin to emerge from the worst economic and operating environment in the past 50 years, we remain confident in the long-term growth potential of our business.”
She added, “While the industry is clearly undergoing a dramatic transformation, television and radio continue to have staying power. Consumers most rely on broadcast channels for their news, information and entertainment. As I mentioned in our last call, maintaining the right to our existing airways is a critical part of our strategy to deliver enhanced services to our viewers—including HD programming, our multicast offerings and mobile TV. We intend to continue to work diligently to ensure the spectrum we need for our future.”
Highlights for Q1:
(All comps are made to Q1 2009 unless otherwise noted.)
— TV net revenue increased $6.3 million, or 31%, to $26.6 million.
— Core advertising revenue (net) increased 19% to $21.0 million and Political revenue (net) increased $716,000 to $752,000.
— Advertising increased in virtually all key categories – Automotive, the largest category, increased 55%, while Professional Services and Retail increased 20% and 17%, respectively.
— TV BCF increased $2.9 million to $3.2 million; TV BCF margin was 12%, up from 1%.
— Retrans consent revenue for the quarter was $2.6 million, an increase of $1.7 million from the $1.0 million recorded for the first quarter of 2009. The 2009 amount excluded $906,000 of cable retrans consent fees attributable to the first quarter of 2009 under contracts with several cable distribution partners that were
executed in the third quarter of 2009. Including the $906,000 of retrans revenue recorded in the third quarter of 2009 but attributable to the first quarter of 2009, 2010 retransmission revenue increased $0.8 million, or 41%, from first quarter of 2009.
— Internet net revenue increased by $290,000, or 87%, to $623,000. During the quarter, Internet revenue was 2.3% of TV revenue.
— Radio net revenue increased $367,000, or 8%, to $5.3 million.
— Radio BCF decreased $144,000 to $356,000 and BCF margin decreased to 7%. The decrease in radio BCF was a result of higher sales commissions and programming costs. Radio BCF in the first quarter of
2009 also benefited from the collection of a previously written off receivable.
— Fisher Plaza revenue grew $176,000, or 5%, to $3.5 million.
— Fisher Plaza EBITDA (which excludes net fire-related expenses) increased 4% to $1.9 million.
— The Company continues to actively discuss with its insurance carriers its remaining loss claim related to the July 2009 electrical fire.