Meredith starting to bounce back


Compared to its last fiscal Q1, the Meredith Corporation’s television group had a rough quarter – but compare it to the most recent results posted in fiscal Q4, it picked up a considerable head of steam.

The company, which operates on a schedule a quarter ahead of most, brought in $61.6M in non-political advertising in Q1 2009, a number that fell 7% to $53.7M for fiscal Q1 2010. But that compares very favorably to the 20% drop in Q4. Operating profit for the group stood at $2M, down from $11M in the prior Q1.

Political, naturally was way down, from about $5.9M to $0.9M. However, income from other sources grew from $2.9M to $6.2M. Total income went from $70.4M to $60.8M.

The company is expecting good things in 2010, including $20M in MVPD retransmission money. Most of its contracts do not come up for renewal for several years.

It is also looking long and hard at syndication contracts, the most expensive of which is Oprah. It’s had success by declining renewals of expensive properties and replacing them with highly profitable local news programs, and will continue to follow that model.

Meredith execs commented on the FCC’s look at putting broadband on spectrum currently occupied by television. They said there is nothing imminent to worry about, but broadcasters need to be on the alert on this issue, and should proactively help the FCC find other sources for spectrum that will not displace critical over-the-air television services.

RBR-TVBR observation: Television companies may well be able to get out some black ink in 2010. A rebounding economy coupled with an election year may make for some attractive comps.