March 4, 2003
Belo updates investment community on First Quarter Outlook
Palm Beach, FL--Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) presented at the Bear Stearns 16th Annual Media, Entertainment & Information Conference in Palm Beach, Florida, today, providing guidance to the investment community on the Company's business strategies, operations and financial outlook for the first quarter of 2003.
Robert W. Decherd, Belo's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said: "Belo is well-positioned to capitalize on a continued advertising recovery.
Belo's outlook is promising because the Company has tremendous staying power and we are leveraging our assets to develop incremental revenue streams and operating efficiencies. Belo's staying power comes from the leadership position and diversity of its assets, the strength of its markets and its strong community ties. In an uneven economy and times of global uncertainty like we are experiencing, these characteristics provide true competitive advantages."
Dunia A. Shive, Belo's executive vice president and chief financial officer, provided guidance for the first quarter of 2003 and commented on Belo's prospects for the remainder of the year.
Shive said Belo's Television Group spot revenues are currently expected to finish up about 4 percent in the first quarter. For Belo's Newspaper Group, the Company currently expects advertising revenues to increase in the low-to-mid single digits.
Shive noted that total cash expenses in the first quarter of 2003 will increase about five percent due mostly to higher pension expense, an increase in medical insurance expense and increases in sales-related commissions and representation fees.
Belo's investment in Belo Interactive's operations should be 20 to 25 percent less in the first quarter of 2003 versus the first quarter of last year. Other income and expense in the first quarter of 2003 will include approximately $1.8 million of incremental investment related to Belo's cable news joint ventures with Time Warner Cable in Charlotte, Houston and San Antonio.
Depreciation and amortization expense is expected to be similar to the first quarter of last year.
Interest expense in the first quarter of 2003 should be 10 to 13 percent less than the first quarter of last year due to lower debt levels. The Company's effective tax rate for the first quarter should be just under 39 percent. Based on this guidance, the Company currently estimates first quarter earnings per share to be in the range of $0.15 to $0.16.
Addressing the remainder of 2003, Shive said, "Belo's Television Group will face difficult comparisons in the third and fourth quarters of 2003 due to the almost $50 million of political revenue our television stations generated in 2002, $40 million of which came in the third and fourth quarters. The tight inventory levels that the television networks continue to experience, however, bode well for spot television revenues in the second and third quarters.
"On the newspaper side, we expect continued recovery in revenue at The Dallas Morning News in 2003, but the timing and strength of the rebound is uncertain. We do not expect significant improvement in classified employment at The Morning News until there is job creation associated with the economic recovery. However, we expect the revenue momentum that has been building in the other newspaper advertising categories to continue through the year.
"In 2003, total cash expenses are expected to increase 4 to 5 percent mostly due to increases in newsprint expense, various benefits expenses - particularly pension and medical insurance - and insurance costs. Excluding the increases in these categories, cash expenses are expected to increase less than two percent.
Programming expense at our television stations is expected to be flat."
Shive's additional comments regarding the Company's full-year 2003 outlook included the following:
* The Company's investment in Belo Interactive is expected to drop to about $7 million.
* Depreciation and amortization expense should be about the same as 2002.
* Capital expenditures should be about $90 million.
* Interest expense should decrease about 7 percent.
* The effective tax rate in 2003 should be just under 39 percent.
Additional information on Belo and its outlook for 2003 is available online at www.belo.com, including the full text of the Bear Stearns presentation.
About Belo Corp
Belo Corp. is one of the nation's largest media companies with a diversified group of market-leading television, newspaper, cable and interactive media assets. A Fortune 1000 company with approximately 7,800 employees and $1.4 billion in annual revenues, Belo operates news and information franchises in some of America's most dynamic markets and regions, including Texas, the Northwest, the Southwest, Rhode Island, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Belo owns 19 television stations (six in the top 16 markets) reaching 13.7 percent of U.S. television households; owns or operates six cable news channels; and manages one television station through a local marketing agreement. Belo publishes four daily newspapers: The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) and the Denton Record-Chronicle (Denton, TX). Belo Interactive's new media businesses include 34 Web sites, several interactive alliances, and a broad range of Internet-based products.
Statements in this report concerning the Company's business outlook or future economic performance, anticipated profitability, revenues, expenses, capital expenditures, investment commitments, or other financial or operating items and other statements that are not historical facts, are "forward-looking statements" as the term is defined under applicable Federal Securities Laws. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those statements.
Such risks, uncertainties and factors include, but are not limited to, changes in advertising demand, interest rates and newsprint prices; technological changes; development of Internet commerce; industry cycles; changes in pricing or other actions by competitors and suppliers; regulatory changes; the effects of Company acquisitions and dispositions; general economic conditions; and significant armed conflict, as well as other risks detailed in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), including the Annual Report on Form 10-K.
For more information, contact Dunia Shive, Belo's executive vice president and chief financial officer, or Carey Hendrickson, Belo's vice president of investor relations, at 214-977-6606. Additional information on Belo is available online at www.belo.com.