National advertising fell 5% during Q1 2012 for the television stations of Belo Corporation, but local was up 4%, and that was enough to drive an overall 1% gain in advertising revenue. It also helped build a 3% gain it total revenue to $156M.
President/CEO Dunia A. Shive commented, “Growth in core spot revenue and double-digit growth in both retransmission revenue and Internet advertising contributed to a 3 percent total revenue increase in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011. Core spot revenue included increases in our two largest categories, automotive and retail. While political revenue was higher than the prior year, we did not receive meaningful political dollars in the first quarter due to the Texas primary moving to the second quarter.”
Shive continued, “With the savings related to the conclusion of the Oprah show last fall and continued expense management, combined station and corporate operating costs were lower than the first quarter of last year. Our station adjusted EBITDA grew 16 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011 and our station adjusted EBITDA margin was 35 percent.”
Shive said Belo’s confidence is demonstrated by its new $0.08 per share quarterly dividend, representing a 60% increase and a $0.32 per share value for the full year.
In addition to the aforementioned advertising results, Belo reported gains aleady kicking in on the political front, rising from $1.2M to $1.6M. It expects to be even better in Q2 on this front, since the state primary has been moved back into that quarter and features contests in both parties to run for US Senate.
Belo is seeing continued improvement in the automotive category, and has the Olympics to look forward to this summer and elections in the fall. However, it will be missing out on revenue it earned last year associated with the NBA Dallas Mavericks’ ascendancy to the league’s finals. The company will also miss the network compensation checks it used to receive.