Modest quarterly growth for Emmis Communications


For its fiscal Q3 (September-November) Emmis Communications reported that radio revenues grew 5% to $48 million. While that was a gain, the Emmis stations as a group still underperformed their markets thus far for the year.

Meanwhile, the publishing side of Emmis (regional magazines) saw revenues decline 2.2% to $18.5 million in the quarter. Total revenues for the company fell 2.9% to $66.5 million.

In an SEC filing, Emmis said Miller Kaplan reported that the domestic radio markets where the company operates were up 6.0% in the first nine months of the Emmis fiscal year. For the Emmis stations in those six US markets (Terre Haute, IN is not a Miller, Kaplan reporting market) revenues were up only 5.1%. The company said its mid-sized market stations – St. Louis, Indianapolis and Austin – outperformed, while the three biggies – New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – underperformed their markets. “Revenue declines at WRKS in New York, KPWR in Los Angeles and WLUP in Chicago caused us to fall short of the performance of the markets in which we operate,” Emmis stated.

Station operating expenses declined for radio, while publishing expenses were up. RBR-TVBR calculates that station operating income (SOI) for radio was up 27.3% to $15.4 million for the quarter, while publishing SOI declined 36.8% to $1.9 million.

Emmis and CEO Jeff Smulyan remain in litigation with Alden Global Capital over last year’s failed effort to take the company private. The quarterly SEC filing contains nothing new in that regard since the announcement last month that Emmis and Smulyan’s personal company had jointly retained Bose McKinney & Evans to pursue the case against Alden. The shareholder lawsuits which had claimed that the terms of the aborted buyout were too stingy have all been dismissed.

Emmis also continues efforts to sell some big market stations, but there was nothing new to report on that front.

RBR-TVBR observation: No longer a bellwether for the radio industry, due to its unique problems in its three largest markets, Emmis is still interesting since it reports about a month ahead of other public radio groups. The good news for the radio industry is that Emmis saw revenues rise again – and its biggest markets did even better than it did.