The black ink was over-flowing from the Nexstar Broadcasting accounting office. Both local and national posted strong gains even before the political windfall was added in – and the company says it did not suffer significant traditional ad displacement due to the windfall.
During Q4, net revenue rose 34.8% to $116.2M; gross revenue was up 36.6% to $129.7M, including a 6.8% gain in local to $52.6M, a 14.3% gain in national to $20.6M, an exponential gain in political to $27.3M (from $2M), a 24.9% gain in digital to $5.3M and a 55.9% gain in retrans to $16.1M.
Broadcast cash flow was up 61.2% to $56.3M.
Over the course of the full year, net revenue was up 23.5% to 378.6, gross revenue increased 24% to $419.5 and BCF increased 48.5% to $171M.
Nexstar Chairman/President/CEO Perry A. Sook commented, “The 34.8% rise in fourth quarter net revenue concluded what was already a record year financially for Nexstar. Our strong financial results were primarily driven by record-breaking political advertising sales, higher core television ad revenue, growing retransmission consent revenues, and our 24th consecutive quarter of e-Media revenue increases. We also benefited from a month of operations related to the accretive acquisition of ten television stations from Newport Television. Fourth quarter BCF, EBITDA and free cash flow increases of 61.2%, 62.6% and 87.2%, respectively, reflect significant margin growth related to the leverage in our operating model as well as the value of our initiatives to diversify revenues, maximize the political advertising opportunity, manage costs and actively expand our operations through strategic, accretive station acquisitions.”
Sook was proud of Nexstar’s strategy for controlling inventory. He said, “During the fourth quarter, we successfully managed inventory to maximize our share of election spending in our markets without materially impacting our core television business. Notably, excluding political, gross revenue in the fourth quarter grew over 10%, as we continued to successfully leverage the value of our traditional television broadcasting operating model into a diversified platform with multiple high margin revenue streams.”
Other plusses included automotive, up 12%, and retransmission consent income, up 55.9%. The addition of new stations into the portfolio, significantly from the company’s acquisition of Newport Television properties, also contributed to Nexstar’s growth.