Synergy savings on fast track for Cumulus Media (audio)


Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey had told Wall Street the company would be able to realize $52 million in synergy savings within a year of acquiring Citadel Broadcasting – but that timetable has now been speeded up a lot. Also, Dickey reported on Q4 pacings as they stand now.

Lew Dickey:

Asked in Q&A about whether that down 4%, flat excluding political, might improve before the quarter ends, Dickey declined to make any prediction. He did note, however, that the political comps from last year have now all been passed, so all parts of Cumulus are now selling against core ad sales from last year. National is more challenged, particularly in larger markets, but Dickey said he is pleased with the local sales efforts at his company’s stations. 

Looking at Q3 numbers, where total pro forma revenues were down 1.9%, Dickey provided details breaking out the three pieces of what is now one company. Same station revenues for the original Cumulus Media were down 0.6% to $67 million – actually up 1.6% excluding political. For CMP revenues were down 3.4% to $45.9 million, or down 2.8% excluding political. Citadel revenues were down 2.3% to $184.2 million, but only down about 0.9% excluding political. Dickey indicated that separate results won’t be broken out in the future, since it is now one integrated company.

And that integration is taking place rapidly. “We identified $51.9 million of initial merger synergies to be achieved in the first 24 months following closing,” Dickey reminded investors and analysts of the promises the company had made in conjunctions with the CMP and Citadel acquisitions. The company had previously said that the majority of the synergies would be realized in the first six months after closing. “Our team has made a tremendous amount of progress in just two months…we are now on target to realize the entire $51.9 million of merger synergies by December 31st,” Dickey proudly reported.

The CEO is calling Q4 a “transitional quarter” with the merged company ready to hit its stride in 2012.

RBR-TVBR observation: Dickey was happy to report that integrating the companies is ahead of schedule and he’s been “pleasantly surprised” by the upside his team is finding at the former Citadel operation. He certainly made a big move to grow the company, so it will be interesting to watch Cumulus in 2012.

One key area that Lew Dickey must get focused on for competitive growth – ‘Digital’ by building a focus-branded web portal and quickly, if they are going to have parody with Clear Channel which is way ahead with iHeart and a few other key assets that Cumulus does not have which CC uses to their advantage.  

Then forget Pandora and all the other digital competitors.