Non-political television ad revenues were down 25% in fiscal Q4 (April-June) at Meredith Corporation and Q1 is currently pacing down double digits as well. But CEO Steve Lacy told analysts that the company is seeing TV ad sales improve week-to-week.
That’s not to say that TV revenues are moving into growth territory any time soon. Meredith is predicting that total company revenues will be up in the second half of the new fiscal year, with the growth coming on the magazine side. TV is expected to be down less in the second half, but still down.
For the current fiscal Q1 (July-September), TV ad pacings are currently down 25%. However, company officials noted that at the same point of Q4, pacings were down 30% and the quarter ended down 25%. Through the previous quarter they observed a week-to-week improvement in pacings of about a percentage point.
Lacy told analysts that auto ads were down 45% for the past fiscal year. Also, two of Meredith’s TV markets, Phoenix and Las Vegas, were among those most impacted by the housing downturn. Going forward, though, the company is focusing on creating multi-platform ad campaigns for clients and Lacy sees an opportunity for the TV stations as local newspapers cut back on their operations. He also noted that retransmission consent payments doubled in the past fiscal year and he is expecting to take in more than $20 million in the current fiscal year.
For Q4, TV revenues fell to $62 million from $79 million. Publishing revenues declined to $283 million from $297 million.
Excluding one-time charges, Q4 earnings per share were 55 cents, in line with guidance, but down from 75 cents a year earlier.