October 22, 2003
Belo reports results for third quarter 2003
Dallas, TX -- Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) today reported net earnings per share of $0.27 for the third quarter of 2003 compared with net earnings per share of $0.25 in the third quarter of 2002. Analysts' consensus estimate for the third quarter of 2003 was $0.25.
Belo's consolidated revenues for the third quarter increased 2.5 percent with an increase of 1.6 percent in total operating costs and expenses. Consolidated earnings from operations increased 6.0 percent while consolidated EBITDA (net earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization) increased 2.3 percent.
In the third quarter of 2003, if Belo had expensed stock options, pro forma net earnings per share would have been $0.25 compared to net earnings per share of $0.27 reported today. Pro forma net earnings per share in the third quarter of 2002 would have been $0.22 per share compared to reported net earnings per share of $0.25.
Third Quarter 2003 in Review
Robert W. Decherd, Belo's chairman, president, and chief executive officer, said, "Belo's third quarter results finished a little better than we anticipated when we last commented on the third quarter in mid-September. As expected, revenues firmed as the third quarter progressed, particularly in Belo's Television Group. As we enter the fourth quarter, visibility is still limited in our core businesses, but we sense that the U.S. economy and the advertising environment are somewhat more predictable. We are hopeful that recent positive economic news will fuel a sustained economic recovery. When a full-fledged recovery begins, Belo's market-leading assets in above-average growth markets are poised to lead the way."
The Television Group overcame the impact of the uneven economy and lower political spending in the third quarter, growing total revenues 1.3 percent with a 1.0 percent increase in spot. Political revenues were $3.6 million in the third quarter of 2003 compared with $11.5 million in the third quarter of last year. Excluding political revenues, spot revenues increased 6.8 percent in the third quarter. Spot revenues were particularly strong in the month of September, increasing 13.1 percent, excluding political revenues. Total operating costs and expenses before depreciation and amortization for the Television Group were approximately one percent higher in the third quarter of 2003. EBITDA for the Television Group increased 1.7 percent in the third quarter. Total operating costs and expenses were 0.5 percent less than the third quarter of last year and earnings from operations increased 4.7 percent.
Newspaper Group total revenues increased 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2003 compared with the third quarter of 2002, while advertising revenues increased 2.2 percent. Retail and classified revenues decreased 3.6 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively, in the third quarter. These decreases were more than offset by a 21.1 percent increase in general revenues, an 8.2 percent increase in preprints and TMC and a 9.6 percent increase in all other advertising revenue. Total operating costs and expenses for the Newspaper Group were 3.7 percent higher in the third quarter of 2003 compared to the third quarter of 2002. Operating costs and expenses before depreciation and amortization were 4.1 percent higher. EBITDA for the Newspaper Group decreased 1.6 percent in the third quarter and earnings from operations decreased 1.9 percent.
Belo Interactive's Web sites generated $6.3 million in revenue during the third quarter, compared to $5.0 million in the third quarter of 2002, an increase of 26.1 percent. Belo Interactive's EBITDA investment in the third quarter of 2003 improved to $1.1 million from $2.9 million in the third quarter of 2002. Including depreciation and amortization, the Company's investment in Belo Interactive was $1.9 million in the third quarter compared with an investment of $3.7 million in the third quarter of 2002.
Revenues in Belo's Other segment, consisting primarily of NorthWest Cable News and Texas Cable News, increased 16.6 percent in the third quarter of 2003 to $5.1 million. Total operating costs and expenses before depreciation and amortization increased 12.7 percent over the prior year, resulting in EBITDA of $220,000 in the third quarter of 2003 compared with EBITDA of $44,000 in the third quarter of 2002. Total operating costs and expenses increased 12.2 percent in the third quarter of 2003. Including depreciation and amortization, the Company's investment in the third quarter was $432,000, an improvement of 22.6 percent from the third quarter of last year.
Corporate's total operating costs and expenses before depreciation and amortization in the third quarter of 2003 were 7.2 percent less than the prior year, due to a decrease in bonus accruals. Total operating costs and expenses, including depreciation and amortization, were 4.2 percent less in the third quarter compared with the prior year.
Belo's total depreciation and amortization expense decreased 4.3 percent in the third quarter of 2003 compared with the third quarter of 2002.
Other income (expense), net in the third quarter of 2003 includes a planned $2.4 million loss from Belo's equity ownership in cable news joint ventures with Time Warner in Charlotte, Houston and San Antonio. As expected, the third quarter loss in the joint ventures was approximately $1.5 million greater than the third quarter of 2002.
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
All references in this release to consolidated EBITDA and to its components, EBITDA on a segment basis and total operating costs and expenses before depreciation and amortization, are references to non-GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation of EBITDA to net earnings is set forth in Industry Segment Information, which is included as an exhibit to this release.
Fourth Quarter 2003 Outlook
Dunia A. Shive, Belo's executive vice president and chief financial officer, said, "As we look to the fourth quarter, it is important to remember that the Television Group generated $27.9 million of political revenue in the fourth quarter of 2002 - $21.8 million in October, $5.9 million in November, and a minimal amount in December. We currently expect political revenues in the fourth quarter of 2003 to be about $3.9 million. Based on current pacings, spot revenues in October, excluding political, are expected to be up in the high-single digits. Spot revenues, including political, are expected to be down about 20 percent in October. In November, current pacings for spot revenues, excluding political, are up in the low to mid-single digits. Including political revenues, November spot revenues are currently pacing down mid-single digits.
"Newspaper Group revenue trends in the fourth quarter are similar to the third quarter so far. However, retail is a little better than in the third quarter and general advertising, while still strong on an absolute dollar basis, will cycle against big gains in telecom in the fourth quarter of 2002. Classified employment in Dallas remains our most significant challenge, with the Dallas unemployment rate currently 80 basis points above the national unemployment rate. However, classified real estate and automotive look good so far in the fourth quarter and the preprints and TMC category remains strong. We currently expect advertising revenue for the Newspaper Group to be up about three to four percent in October."
Robert W. Decherd added, "We currently expect the Company's total operating costs and expenses in the fourth quarter of 2003 to increase one to two percent compared with the fourth quarter of the prior year, with significantly lower bonus expense. Benefits costs in the fourth quarter will continue to be significantly greater than last year, mostly due to higher pension and medical insurance costs. Newsprint expense is expected to be 10 to 13 percent higher in the fourth quarter. Direct compensation expense is projected to decrease one to two percent due to lower bonuses.
"The Company's investment in Belo Interactive, including depreciation and amortization, should be around $1.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2003 compared with $3.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2002. Belo's total depreciation and amortization expense is expected to be flat with the fourth quarter of last year. Interest expense in the fourth quarter of 2003 should be about two percent less than the fourth quarter of last year as a result of lower debt levels. Other income (expense), net should be similar to the first three quarters of 2003. The Company's effective tax rate for the fourth quarter should be just under 39 percent.
"The fourth quarter of 2003 will include a $1.9 million gain, $1.1 million net of taxes, or $0.01 per share, on the sale of Belo's radio station in San Antonio, KENS-AM. The radio station was acquired by Belo as part of the purchase of KENS-TV in San Antonio in 1997.
"Based on what we know today, we expect fourth quarter net earnings per share to be in a range of $0.36 to $0.38, including the one-cent gain on the sale of the radio station."
Belo will update the investment community regarding its expectations for revenues, operating costs and expenses and net earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2003 at the December Media Week conferences in New York and will continue to provide information on operating trends in its monthly statistical reports.
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 nine 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.
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, including earnings releases, is available online at http://www.belo.com.
Statements in this communication concerning the Company's business outlook or future economic performance, anticipated profitability, revenues, expenses, capital expenditures, investments, 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.
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