December 9, 2003
Belo updates investment community on key business strategies and fourth quarter financial performance
New York, NY -- Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) presented at the CS First Boston 2003 Media Week Conference in New York today, providing guidance to the investment community on the Company's business strategies, operations and financial performance.
Robert W. Decherd, Belo's chairman, president and chief executive officer, highlighted the shared culture existing throughout Belo that provides a common foundation for the Company's strategy of winning through quality journalism and community service. Decherd noted, "The future is increasingly about how well a company's media operations work together - by sharing content, creating combined sales and advertising opportunities, and embracing common technology platforms."
Decherd added, "Belo owns superior assets that will attract more than their fair share of revenue in an economic and advertising recovery. Our management team is focused on achieving consistently strong financial results, which will allow Belo's shareholders to continue to enjoy substantial returns over the intermediate to long term."
Dunia A. Shive, Belo's executive vice president and chief financial officer, provided guidance for the fourth quarter of 2003 and made general remarks about Belo's prospects for 2004. Regarding Belo's outlook for the fourth quarter of 2003, Shive said Television Group spot revenues decreased 4.9 percent in November, with difficult comparisons to the prior year related to political revenues. In December, spot revenues are currently pacing even with last year. For the fourth quarter overall, Television Group revenues are expected to decrease in the high-single digits including political revenue and to increase in the mid-single digits excluding political revenue. Newspaper Group advertising revenues increased 6.3 percent in November, which included one extra Sunday versus the prior year, and are expected to increase about three percent in the fourth quarter of 2003 versus the fourth quarter of 2002.
Shive stated that the Company's total operating costs and expenses, including depreciation and amortization, are expected to be up about one percent versus the previous year's fourth quarter.
Shive added, "At Belo's Investor Day in late October, we stated that we expected fourth quarter net earnings per share to be in a range of $0.36 to $0.38, including a one-cent gain on the sale of Belo's radio station in San Antonio, KENS-AM. Subsequent to Investor Day, we made a decision to launch Quick, a fast-read daily newspaper designed to reach readers ages 18 to 34, in the Dallas market. The launch of this product will result in an investment of about $0.01 per share in the fourth quarter. In addition, actions approved last week by Belo's Board of Directors will result in a charge of about $0.01 per share for items including a modification to Belo's executive retirement plan and modest bonus payments to certain key operating executives. Including these items, fourth quarter reported net earnings per share should be in a range of $0.35 to $0.36, which compares to the previous guidance range of $0.36 to $0.38."
Shive spoke in general terms about 2004 expenses and the Company's expectations for political, Olympics and Super Bowl revenues in 2004. Shive said, "We will enter 2004 with market-leading positions, well-managed expenses and a strong balance sheet. And, we remain focused on generating substantial amounts of free cash flow and putting it to use in a smart manner."
Additional information on Belo and its outlook for 2003 and 2004 is available online at www.belo.com, including the full text of the presentation and the archived webcast.
Belo management will make a similar presentation at the 31st Annual UBS Media Week Conference on Wednesday, December 10, at 10:00 a.m. CST. The archived webcast of the presentation will be available at www.belo.com.B
Belo 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.
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.
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.