Fisher Q3 revenue up 2.8%; Television up 6.7%


Fisher Communications’ Q3 revenues were $41.9 million, compared to $40.8 million in Q3 2007, a 2.8% increase. The increase in revenue was primarily due to the addition of KBAK and KBFX in Bakersfield, CA, acquired on 1/1/08.

Net income for the quarter was $29.8 million, or $3.41 per share, compared to a net loss of $533,000 or $0.06 per share in the third quarter of 2007. Excluding the after-tax effects of the gain from the sale of Fisher’s remaining shares of Safeco stock of $31.8 million, net loss would have been $2.1 million in the third quarter of 2008 or $0.24 per share.

Television revenue increased 6.7% in Q3 compared with the same period last year. Same-station television revenue decreased 1.6% in the quarter due to significant declines in key advertising categories including Automotive (down 41%) and Retail (down 12%).Despite no Presidential candidate spending in Fisher markets, gross television political revenue increased $4.2 million from Q3 ‘07 to $5.4 million in Q3 ‘08.

Television broadcast cash flow (BCF) margins decreased to 21.1% during the third quarter compared to 24.7% in the third quarter of 2007, while at the same time cost reductions resulted in virtually flat operating expenses at Fisher’s English-language stations.

Nearly all of Fisher’s television and radio stations increased their market share this year, including a nearly 400 basis point gain at the Bakersfield duopoly.

Fisher’s television stations continued to see improvement in key ratings in the July ratings book. Stations ranked either #1 or #2 in early evening news in six out of seven markets. Revenue and broadcast cash flow for the Company’s Univision stations increased 22% and 30%, respectively, from third quarter of 2007.
A 21% decline in Mariners revenue led to an overall 10% decrease in radio revenue from Q3 2007 to the same quarter in 2008; non-Mariners radio spot revenue was flat quarter-over-quarter despite an 8% decline in market revenue.

Fisher also completed the sale of its remaining shares of Safeco Corporation, which resulted in an after-tax gain of $31.8 million in the quarter.

Said Fisher CEO Colleen Brown: "Our third quarter performance reflects the unfortunate events that occurred in the financial markets during the quarter and the larger challenges in the U.S. economy. As companies re-evaluated their spending priorities to address the uncertainties brought on by the economic slowdown, we experienced sharp declines in advertising revenues in many categories, which could not be offset by stronger than expected political spending and growing Internet revenues during the quarter. While this is unquestionably a tough period for our industry, we continued to make solid progress in improving Fisher’s operational performance and strengthening the company’s overall position in the marketplace. We are encouraged that we have increased our market share in virtually all of our markets this year, including significant gains for our Bakersfield duopoly and Seattle radio cluster. We were able to achieve these operational successes despite no third quarter Presidential candidate spending in Fisher’s markets, nor any Olympics programming on Fisher’s stations.”

Fisher’s Plaza segment reported revenues of $3.3 million, a 17% increase over the $2.8 million generated in the Q3 2007. Income from operations was $1.4 million, an increase of $420,000 and 41% compared to the same period in 2007. The increases were attributable to higher rent and fees associated with higher occupancy, which increased from 96% in the third quarter of 2007 to 97% in Q3 2008.

The Company continues to explore strategic alternatives for its real estate holdings, including Fisher Plaza. However, given current credit market conditions, the Company has suspended efforts to sell Fisher Plaza.