Political cash was coming in at a fast and furious pace during the final weeks of the 2012 election season for stations in the Gray Television portfolio. It will actually cause a loss in traditional advertiser categories due to displacement on the way to a record Q4 for the company.
Gray is now expecting $43M or so in Q4 political – its best ever before this year was $10M less, and Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker places the prediction $7M beyond her own company’s estimate of $36M.
Gray says by the end of the year it will have raked in $85M-$86M in political, blowing away its prior record of $57.6M in 2010.
It is also expected to blast the company’s full year net revenue over the $400M threshold, well beyond its previous record of $346.1M, also posted in 2010.
Core local advertiser displacement caused by the political windfall is expected to decrease advertising revenue by 3% on the local side and by 7% on the national side.
Wells Fargo adjusted its forecast as well. Ryvicker said, “We are raising our Q4 revenue to $124.7MM from $120.3MM, EBITDA to $63.2MM from $59.7MM, EPS to $0.48 from $0.44, and FCF/share to $0.75 from $0.69. Our 2012 estimates are as follows: revenue goes to $402.9MM from $398.5MM, EBITDA to $174.6MM from $171.1MM, EPS to $0.95 from $0.91 and FCF per share to $1.52 from $1.46.