Sequential improvement has been the focus of quarterly reports from some media companies – and you can add Media General to the list. Q3 revenues were down 18% to $158 million. But that was better than the Q2 performance.
“The 18% decline in total revenues in the third quarter represents a sequential improvement from the 20% decrease in the second quarter of 2009. The improvement is made more notable when we consider that last year’s third quarter included $12.5 million in Olympics revenues as well as $6 million more in Political revenues,” said CEO Marshall Morton.
“Nonetheless, the advertising environment in the third quarter remained challenging, and we experienced lower Classified, Local and National revenues overall. On the other hand, newspaper circulation revenues increased 11 percent as a result of rate increases, and renewed emphasis on subscription sales after Labor Day is yielding encouraging results. Cable and satellite retransmission fees were $4.2 million in this year’s third quarter compared to just under $1 million last year,” Morton added
Income from continuing operations, adjusted for an impairment charge, was $4.4 million, or 20 cents per share, compared with $5.7 million, or 25 cents per share in the prior year. That was also well above Wall Street expectations.
For the first time, Media General reported its quarterly results by its new regional management structure announced in March. Newspaper and television results are merged in each geographic segment, now that they are under joint management.
Virginia/Tennessee segment profits in the third quarter were $10.7 million, a 2% decrease from a year ago. Revenues of $48 million declined 14.7%. The segment benefited from stronger local sales in several regions, and the decline in Political revenues was less significant than in other markets. Segment expenses decreased 19%.
Florida segment profits were $524,000, a 56.5% decrease from the prior year. Total revenues were $36.5 million, down 22.7%, mostly the result of recession-induced soft advertising. In addition, WFLA had $2 million in Political revenues and $2.7 million in Olympics revenues last year. Expenses decreased 22% from last year.
Mid-South segment profits were $5.5 million, an 11.9% decrease. Revenues were $35.5 million, a 13.8% decrease. The 2008 third quarter included $1.2 million in Political revenues and $2.1 million in Olympics revenues. Expenses decreased 14.8%.
North Carolina segment profits were $1.4 million, a 63.3% decrease. Revenues were $18.9 million, a 27.1% decline. The North Carolina television stations were impacted by the absence of $1 million in Political revenues and $2.3 million in Olympics revenues from last year. Segment expenses declined 20.7%.
Ohio/Rhode Island segment profits were $2.5 million, a 46.5% decrease from last year. Total revenues decreased 22.7%. The current quarter results reflected $1.5 million less in Political revenues than last year and the absence of $5 million of revenues from the Olympics. Operating expenses decreased 12.7%.
The Advertising Services and Other segment profits increased 84% from last year. Most of the improvement was generated by DealTaker.com and Blockdot. DealTaker.com’s revenues increased 21.2%, reflecting increased traffic and visitors buying from merchant sites, driven by marketing and sales initiatives. Blockdot’s revenues increased 29%, also driven by sales initiatives.
The company did, however, also provide some basic information along more traditional media lines. Newspaper revenues for the entire company were down 18.5% to $84.1 million. Broadcast revenues were down 20.2% to $63.4 million. And digital media/other revenues were up 2% to $10.5 million.