Saga: 2010 will be up


Why? That’s the only direction left to go – Saga President/CEO Ed Christian said that because of that, the question about 2010 revenues isn’t if they’ll go up, but by how much. Leading into 2010, the company said its performance began to pick up in the last month of Q3 (September) and would have been about flat in October if the political category is excluded from the results.

The Q3 results, even with political factored in, put the company on the comfortable side of the pack, judging by what other companies are reporting for the same period. Net operating revenue decreased 13.7% to $31.3M. It actually increased free cash flow by a factor of 5.1% to $5.8M compared to $5.5M for the same period last year.

The absence of political did put a big hole in the balance sheet, going from $1.9M in Q3 2008 to $239K this year. The company is expecting a record-breaker electoral season in 2010, however, considering it will be a non-presidential year, and said it is already picking up business in Massachusetts from the race to replace Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA).

Operating expenses were down $3.0 million to $23.6M, thanks to cost-saving initiatives. The company said the measures were sustainable in the near term but would eventually have to be factored back into operations once the economy truly stabilizes.

Christian said that the key to successful cost-cutting was to avoid anything which damages the company’s ability to maintain its strong local presence – he said once you do things that diminish localism, it is very hard to get back.

Asked to discuss plans to put WiFi and WiMax inside automobiles, Christian was utterly unconcerned. He said the subscription model that will go with it will likely be fairly pricy; a factor which he believes will greatly dampen consumer enthusiasm for the service.