Guarded optimism at Beasley Broadcast Group


Ad sales are improving, so Q4 was the best quarter of 2009 for Beasley Broadcast Group, with revenues down 14.1%. Excluding political, President Bruce Beasley told analysts the same station decline was 8%.

“In Q4, key Beasley clusters in Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Augusta continued to show progress as our revenue was down low single digits. And while we made further progress on national, Miami, our largest market, still underperformed,” Beasley said. “We’re guardedly optimistic about 2010, given the extremely high unemployment levels and very depressed real estate and econonomies in several of our markets, including Miami, Las Vegas and Fort Myers-Naples. We’re approaching the year with well developed top-line strategies as we strive to participate in an expected up-trend in overall ad spending, further expand our digital revenue, improve our national advertising share and take advantage of gorwth in spending expected to occur in our markets.”

Asked about any differences between Beasley’s large and smaller markets, the company president said the trends are the same – there’s a bit more pressure on inventory and rates are inching up.

Having complained about his national rep in the previous quarter’s Wall Street conference call, Bruce Beasley made a point of praising Katz Radio Group for improvement in Q4. “Inconsistent with the expectations I laid out in our last call, we’ve begun to see the transition to Katz as our national sales rep now paying dividends in both Philadelphia and Las Vegas [he actually said Los Angeles, but it’s been many years since Beasley owned an LA station] and we see Miami following this trend in 2010,” he said. With national turning postive in December, Beasley said he’s seeing early signs that natiuonal advertisers are returning to radio.

Beasley Broadcast Group reported that Q4 revenues declined 14.1% to $26.2 million. That was a decline of 12.6% on a same station basis and, as noted above, an 8% same station drop excluding political. Station operating income (SOI) was off 6.3% to $7.8 million.

CFO Caroline Beasley also noted some balance sheet improvement, with the company reducing debt by $23 million in 2009.