Q3 down, but Journal sees signs of hope


Revenues fell 22.9% to $105.1 million in Q3 at Journal Communications, with similar declines for broadcasting and publishing. But company officials reported that there are sings of sequential improvement in Q4 – although no one is yet calling it a recovery.

“Although the advertising environment remains challenged, we did see some improvements in broadcast revenues as the quarter progressed. We also signed two significant long term printing contracts with publishing customers, as we continue to capitalize on our Journal Sentinel production facility,” said CEO Steven Smith. “We expect to see modest improvement in advertising expenditures as we enter the fourth quarter, yet our focus on expense and debt reduction will continue,” he added.

Broadcasting revenues declined 21.4% in Q3 to $42.4 million, with local off 13.2% and national down 25.3%. Of course, political was down sharply, only $600K vs. $3.4 million. But TV retransmission revenues jumped to $1.2 million from $400K a year ago. Operating earnings for Journal Broadcast Group were $3.7 million, compared to $9.7 million a year ago (excluding a non-cash impairment for the company’s FCC licenses of $38.8 million in Q3 2008, which had resulted in a loss of $29.1 million). 

TV revenues were down 24.1% to $24.5 million. TV revenues and expenses were essentially break-even for the quarter, down from $4.1 million a year ago (excluding the non-cash charge).

Radio revenues were down 17.3% to $17.9 million. Operating earnings of $3.7 million were down from $5.6 million (excluding the non-cash charge).

For the publishing division, Q3 revenues fell 21.8% to 46.5 million. Operating earnings fell 40.3% to $700K. Hit hardest was the flagship Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where revenues fell 23.4%, including a 48.7% decline in classified advertising and a 22.3% drop in retail advertising.

On the bottom line, Journal Communications posted net earnings of eight cents per share, excluding six cents of one-time items, which was right in line with the analysts’ consensus.