Saga's Ed Christian confirms auto softening


Japan’s earthquake and tsunami is now being felt throughout the US broadcasting industry. Q1 revenues were up for Saga Communications, but in his quarterly conference call CEO Ed Christian updated analysts on auto advertising.

“Q2, and I’ve said this so many times…it is predictable in its unpredictability. We saw a couple of weeks ago softening in Q2 and a loss of visibility. It then became exacerbated by, well, let me just put it this way, we’re not having a Toyotathon this month in the Saga stations,” Christian said in his Wall Street call Tuesday (5/10). “We dropped a lot of revenue in May with our car stores, which had been kind of a quiet category for us in ’09 which came back in ’10 and started returning more in ’11.”

Christian reiterated that the pullback was by the Japanese nameplates, because they just don’t have product available due to supply chain problems stemming from the natural disaster that hit the country.

“With that said, I think that’s an aberration. Obviously that money does come back at some point in time,” the CEO noted. “Perhaps not to that level, but I do know that once product and delivery are normalized between the automotive companies and the plants and the dealers that we should be in better shape in dealing with our car stores.”

Christian is still looking for 2011 to be a decent year. He says it is about getting back to basics. “If you do your cold calls. If you do your business prospecting. If you do your presentations. If you do your spec spots. If you do all the other things…do and repeat…do and repeat…then you’re going to have success,” said the Saga sage.