Q4 set records for Nexstar Broadcasting


You could almost envision CEO Perry Sook jumping for joy in his quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts. Nexstar Broadcasting reported its highest quarterly revenue ever and also set a record for free cash flow.

Net revenues jumped 31.2% to a record $97.1 million. A good bit of that was, of course, political, which increased 515.3% to $22.6 million from only $3.7 million in 2009. Most of the heavy spending from the 2010 elections won’t be around this year, although Sook noted that the Rochester, NY market is now in line for some unexpected revenues from a special election to fill a vacant congressional seat.

Excluding political, gross local revenues were up 7.1% in Q4 to $47.1 million. National was down 7.7% to $16.1 million, but Sook attributed that to crowd-out by political advertising. So, core spot business was up 2.9% to $63.3 million.

Double-digit growth was not limited to TV advertising. Nexstar’s e-Media revenues gained 16.1% to $3.9 million and retransmission consent fees rose 19.9% to $7.6 million. Management fee revenue ballooned 459.8% to $3.9 million as Nexstar received an incentive payment in Q4 for exceeding cash flow targets at the Four Points Media Group, whose four stations Nexstar has managed since early 2009.

2010’s political revenues will be tough to replace in a non-election year, but Nexstar is projecting that total revenues will be down only in the mid single digits when all is said and done – ahead of another big political bonanza in 2012. “Our e-Media revenue stream will continue to grow at a good clip in 2011 based on its expanding base of digital revenue applications, improved penetration and monetization of our mobile marketing initiatives. Nearly all of our apps now have been ported over to the mobile side and our monthly mobile page views are reaching new record levels each month,” Sook told analysts.

“And for our core revenue, we are seeing positive local and national ad pacings continuing here in the first quarter of 2011 against last year’s comp, which did include the Olympics. We said we think mid single digit core revenue growth in 2011 is very realistic and attainable – and with our gross core non-political revenue in 2010 amounting to about $236 million that type of growth will help backfill a nice portion of the $39 million of political revenue we did last year,” said the CEO.

Sook is telling Wall Street to expect “record odd-year financial results in 2011.” The company is on track to deliver flat net revenue in Q1, replacing both the Olympic and political revenues of Q1 2010.