Meredith cautious about value of splits


With Belo and Scripps announcing plans to split their companies in two, it was inevitable that Meredith Corporation CEO Stephen Lacy would be asked about split possibilities during his quarterly conference call. "Will it, in fact, unlock value?" That, according to Lacy, is the big question, saying "time will tell" for those other companies. But he sees Meredith’s businesses as being in a "different place" than those other companies, without coming right out and saying how lucky he is to not own any newspapers. "Our core businesses are performing and we see them really as opportunities to build additional businesses around," he said. For example, just this week Meredith made headlines by its magazine division announcing a deal with Wal-Mart to design, market and sell home products based on the Better Homes & Gardens brand.

Looking to the current fiscal Q2 (October-December) Meredith says publishing ad revenues are currently up in the mid-to-high single digits. Broadcast pacings are down in the mid-to-high teens, but non-political TV revenues are pacing up in the mid single digits. In the conference call with analysts, Meredith Broadcast Group President Paul Karpowicz noted that auto advertising is improving, but ad buys in general are coming in late.