Sales down for ShopNBC; NBCU cashing out


Home shopping on TV and online isn’t rebounding as quickly as ad sales for broadcasters, so ShopNBC reported that Q1 net sales were down 6.6% to $125 million. Meanwhile, NBC Universal has begun making arrangements to sell its stake in the shopping outfit.

Previously known as Value Vision TV, thus the stock symbol VVTV still in use, NBC Universal acquired 6.4 million shares under the deal to license the NBC name. But acting under a revised agreement signed in February 2009, NBCU this month exercised its right to have that 19.8% stake registered for sale to the public. NBCU has not indicated when or how it will sell those shares, but the overhang has made some investors hesitant to buy shares until that issue is resolved. Another General Electric unit, GE Capital, owns six million shares, so the total GE holding is over 32% of the equity of ShopNBC.

While reporting a decline in Q1 sales, ShopNBC said its consumer trends are improving, with new customers up 48% and active customers up 30% on a 12-month rolling basis vs. the previous year.

The Q1 sales drop was attributed primarily to lower sales of consumer electronics items. ShopNBC noted that it has strategically lowered its average selling price to $108 from $144 a year earlier, while increasing net shipped units by 23%. TV home shopping continues to account for the majority of sales, but E-commerce sales penetration was a record 39.6% in the quarter.

The company’s EBITDA loss improved to $4.3 million in Q1 from $6.8 million a year earlier. The net loss improved by a million bucks to $11 million.