Traffic drives Clear Channel radio into the black


Clear Channel radio results were essentially flat during Q2 2011 compared to the previous year, or they would have been, had the company not benefitted from revenue generated by its acquisition of Westwood One traffic business. Traffic, along with higher rates for digital services, pushed radio results into the black by a factor of 4%, contributing to an overall CC Media 8% gain.

Total revenues were $1.6B, up from $1.49B during the comparable quarter in 2010. Radio’s 4% gain took it up $32M to $781M. So how flat was traditional station revenue? It was extremely flat, given CC’s attribution of $28M in gains to its new traffic business and $4M to increased digital rates.

Clear Channel EVP/CFO Tom Casey said that unexpected weakness dampened results for the quarter, preventing an even better gain.

Clear Channel’s domestic and international outdoor businesses both did better than radio. On the domestic side, it was only slightly better, with Americas growing 5% to $341M. International was the big growth driver, increasing 19% to $448M.

“During the second quarter, we continued to execute our strategy to build on the leadership position of our assets and maximize our financial performance,” said Casey. “Our results reflect a gradually improving global advertising marketplace and the benefits of our globally diversified platform. Our top line growth combined with our focus on cost management has resulted in consistent improvement in our overall operating profit margin. At the same time, we have continued to strategically invest in our digital platform, including the development of the next generation of and the ongoing deployment of our digital outdoor displays.”

Discussing radio results, CC stated, “Local and national advertising were relatively flat with increases across various advertising categories such as financial services and food and beverage being offset by decreases in other categories, including auto and political.”

Casey noted in conference that the loss of political would obviously be felt more keenly in comps going forward for the next two quarters, but also noted that automotive seemed to be coming back after its lackluster Q2 spend, and said the company’s radio business was on pace for a 3% gain in Q3.

The company is planning on capex spending in the $350M range for the full year, most of which will be going to adding digital boards to its outdoor portfolio.