Revenue for Meredith Corporation’s television-oriented Local Media Group was up 10%, and expenses were down 4% for the company’s fiscal Q3 2012. That admirable combination came together to produce a 71% increase in operating profit.
Meredith stated, “Fiscal 2012 third quarter Local Media Group operating profit was a record $23M, compared to $13M in the year-ago period, an increase of 71%. Total revenues increased 10% to $78M, compared to $71M million. Expenses declined 4% percent, helping drive a group EBITDA margin of 37%.”
Professional service advertising was a growth category for the stations, picking up 11% over the prior Q3. Of note was a 4% increase in automotive over Q3 2011, which Meredith highlighted as it came on top of a 13% increase over Q3 2010. Meredith noted that during the quarter, it did start to see the return of political in its areas of operation that have held primaries, and is looking forward to a strong year for the category.
The company said that its stations enjoyed significant ratings boosts during February sweeps, and flagged CBS WFSB Hartford, CBS KCTV Kansas City, CBS KPHO Phoenix and Fox KVVU Las Vegas for special mention.
“Our Local Media group is doing an excellent job of increasing ratings and translating them into advertising revenues, consistently ranking us among the leading station groups in advertising revenue gains,” said Meredith Local Media Group President Paul Karpowicz. “Additionally, we are augmenting results with revenues from Meredith Video Studios, operation of Turner’s Peachtree TV (WPCH-TV) in Atlanta, and retransmission consent fees from subscription television operators.”
Chairman/CEO Stephen M. Lacy commented, “We are very pleased with the ongoing strong performance of our local television business, and encouraged by improving national media advertising trends as calendar 2012 progresses. We continue to accelerate the execution of digital and video initiatives across our businesses, including expanding our tablet offerings, introducing new mobile apps, and increasing original video programming.”
“The media and marketing landscape continues to evolve,” Lacy continued, “and we are aligning our businesses – which we’ve substantially augmented through a series of strategic acquisitions and initiatives – to best serve our consumers and customers on whatever platform they choose. We’ve led the way among media companies at creating a true multiplatform business, and we fully intend to realize the maximum financial potential of our expanded portfolio as part of our commitment to Total Shareholder Return.”
Meredith’s magazine-oriented National Media Group brought in $23M in operating profit, which was diminished by a $13M special charge. The $37M in profit that would have been recorded without the charge still compared unfavorably to the prior year’s total of $48M. Revenues were flat at $268M. The company said acquisitions drove advertising revenue 2% into the black, but without the acquisitions, the total would have been 7% in the red.