June 22, 2004
Belo presents at the Mid-Year Media Review Conference, provides second quarter outlook
DALLAS -- Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) presented at the Mid-Year Media Review in New York on Tuesday, June 22, reviewing the Company's business strategies and providing near-term guidance to the investment community on the Company's financial performance and current operations. The full text of the presentation and a replay of the Webcast are available on Belo's Web site on the Investor Relations page at www.belo.com.
Presenting an overview of Belo's newspaper, broadcast and interactive operations were Robert W. Decherd, Belo's chairman, president and Chief Executive Officer; Dennis Williamson, Belo's senior corporate vice president/Chief Financial Officer; and James M. Moroney III, publisher and Chief Executive Officer of The Dallas Morning News. Decherd said, "Belo is in an excellent position to take advantage of the burgeoning economic recovery. We are extremely competitive in our regional and local markets, we have the right people in place to manage our operating units, and we have a consistent strategy that is being effectively employed across the Company."
In discussing Belo's financial performance, Williamson said, "Revenue momentum built through the first quarter in both of Belo's core businesses. Revenues in the Company's Newspaper Group and Television Group grew at an even higher rate than we anticipated, posting numbers at the very high end of our peer group. In the second quarter, political revenue has been stronger than we anticipated in our Television Group. The Newspaper Group's general and classified employment categories have been strong throughout the second quarter.
"Television Group spot revenues increased 7.4 percent in April. May spot revenues were up 4.7 percent. June spot revenues should finish up approximately 8 percent, resulting in second quarter spot revenue growth of 6 to 7 percent.
"Newspaper Group advertising revenues increased 7.9 percent in April. May advertising revenues were up about 3 percent on a like-days basis. In June, advertising revenues should finish up about 6 percent on a like-days basis. For the second quarter overall, we currently expect Newspaper Group advertising revenues to increase 5 to 6 percent.
"On the expense side, we expect total operating costs and expenses to increase about 6 to 6.5 percent in the second quarter of 2004 for the Company overall, with two expense categories, new products and bonuses, driving more than half of this increase. Similar to the first quarter, costs associated with the new products at our Newspaper Group account for about 1.5 percentage points of the projected second quarter expense variance. An increase in performance-based bonuses over the prior year, when bonuses were very minimal, accounts for an additional 2 percentage points of the variance. The variance related to all other expenses is only about 3 percent, despite expected low-double digit increases in benefits expense and distribution expense, and a high-single digit increase in newsprint expense.
"Interest expense in the second quarter of 2004 should be about 5 percent less than the second quarter of last year as a result of lower debt levels. The Company's effective tax rate for the second quarter should be about 38 percent.
"Based on these assumptions, we believe net earnings per share for the second quarter of 2004 will be $0.37 to $0.38. This is a 9 to 12 percent increase from reported net earnings per share of $0.34 in the second quarter of 2003, and results in a mid-to-high teens percent increase in net earnings per share year-to-date."
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 7,900 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 15 markets) reaching 13.8 percent of U.S. television households; owns or operates 10 cable news channels; and manages one television station through a local marketing agreement. Belo's daily newspapers include 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 more than 30 Web sites, several interactive alliances and a broad range of Internet-based products. For more information, contact Carey Hendrickson, vice president/Investor Relations, at 214-977-6606. Additional information, including earnings releases, is available online at 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.