With its portfolio of mostly medium- and small-market stations, Cumulus Media reported that Q1 revenues were up 1.8% to $55.4 million. Station Operating Income (SOI), however, shot up 25.9% to $16.4 million.
The picture was better in Q1 for Cumulus Media Partners (CMP), the large market group which is managed by CMI. It does not report detailed financial figures publicly, but CMI CEO Lew Dickey said in his quarterly conference call with analysts that revenues were up 6.2% in Q1 for CMI, with EBITDA up 17.4%. Most radio groups have been indicating that large markets are rebounding more quickly than small ones.
“We are starting to see local rebound here,” Dickey said, while the early stage of the ad recovery has been led by national advertising. Looking ahead, Dickey said Q2 is pacing up 4% for CMI and 10% for CMP.
“Radio is leaving money on the table in May and June,” Dickey said of broadcasters who have not raised rates quickly enough in response to rising demand. He told analysts he expects to see pricing improve as inventories tighten.
You can add another set of initials as well: CRI. That’s Cumulus Radio Investors, the new venture with Crestview Partners that CMI announced early this month.
Having declared CRI in the market to buy up to a billion dollars worth of large market radio stations, analyst Marci Ryvicker of Wells Fargo Securities wanted to know what sort of multiple Dickey expects to pay.
“The primary focus in CRI is going to be top 100 markets,” Dickey said. “There hasn’t been a lot of trading and so I think every transaction is going to be different, but I would say that the multiples are somewhere in the 7-8 times range.”