Low hopes for radio; Modest TV growth


We’re now into the Q1 conference call season and Wachovia analyst Marci Ryvicker is looking for unimpressive performance by radio companies. “Radio’s lack of pricing power and demand is being aggravated by a consumer-led recession,” she says.

For TV, weak core business is being offset by easy comps, some early political spending, digital revenues and retransmission payments, so she is looking for most TV groups to post modest Q1 revenue growth and similar guidance for Q2.

CBS kicks off the week’s reports tomorrow morning. Ryvicker notes that the WGA strike and Super Bowl-inflated comps from 2007 will make Q1 tough, but she thinks CBS may surprise investors on the bottom line because of severe cost cutting.

Here’s a scorecard of what she’s expecting from companies reporting in the next couple of weeks

CBS: Revenues down 4.7% (TV -7%, radio -5%) and EBITDA down 3.0%

Citadel: Revenues down 5% and EBITDA down 15%.

Cox Radio: Revenues down 5% and EBITDA down 21%.

Cumulus Media: Revenues up 1% and EBITDA up 10.7%.

Emmis: Revenues down slightly (but domestic radio -8%) and EBITDA down 7%.

Entravision: TV revenues down 2% and radio revenues down 8%. She expects consolidated revenues to be down in the mid single digits, around 4.1%, and that EBITDA will decline 18%.

Gray Television:  Ryvicker thinks revenues will be at the low end of management’s flat to +1.2% guidance and that the company will miss its EBITDA target of a 5.5-6.1% decline. Her number is -9.5%.

Hearst-Argyle: Revenues up 1% and EBITDA down 0.1%.

LIN TV: Revenues up 2.7% and EBITDA down 0.6%.

Radio One: Revenues down 2% and EBITDA down 12.3%. “We think the biggest positive in the quarter will be the absence of KRBV-FM [Los Angeles], which was a significant drag on both revenues and cash flow,” Ryvicker noted.

Saga Communications: Revenues down 2.3% (radio -3%, TV +3%) and EBITDA down 13.9%.

Sinclair Broadcast Group: Revenues up 14.8% and EBITDA up 11.9%. Ryvicker says Sinclair’s core ad sales are up, along with its benefiting from the Super Bowl on Fox, strong political revenues and more retrans money.