A 16% revenue gain to $80.7 million in Q1 for Gray Television not only beat Wall Street expectations, but management’s own guidance of a 10-11% gain. Retransmission consent was a big help, along with political, but core ad revenues also increased.
Local advertising gained 5% to $45.9 million, while national was flat at $13 million. Internet ad revenue jumped 34% to $5.7 million.
As for the biggies: political advertising jumped 259% to $5 million; and retrans was up 68% to $8.5 million. Gray noted that “a significant portion of our retransmission consent contracts expired on December 31, 2011 and we were able to renew substantially all of these contracts under terms more favorable to Gray.”
According to Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker, the better-than-expected revenues and in-line costs led to an EBITDA gain of 44.6% to $26.6 million, beating her projection of a 27.5% gain and management’s guidance of 25.4-28.2%. In turn, that boosted earnings per share to four cents from a loss of nine cents a year ago. Ryvicker had been expecting a break-even quarter, with zero earnings per share (but no loss either).