February 28, 2005
Belo updates investment community on first quarter and full-year 2005 outlook
Palm Beach, Fla. -- Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) presented at the Bear Stearns 18th Annual Media Conference in Palm Beach, Florida, today, updating the investment community on the Company's business strategies, current operations and financial outlook for both the first quarter and full-year 2005.
Robert W. Decherd, Belo's chairman, president and Chief Executive Officer, provided a summary of the Company's operating strategy and outlined how Belo is positioning itself for the future. Decherd noted, "We are very excited about Belo's future, and specifically about the Company's financial and strategic prospects for 2005. The Company comprises a superior group of assets in growth markets. Belo's three major newspapers are truly outstanding journalistic organizations that are the primary news presence in their markets. Our commitment to quality journalism extends to every Belo television station, virtually all of which lead their markets consistently. These assets provide Belo with a measurable competitive advantage and the opportunity to outperform our peers consistently. Tremendous progress is also being made on the strategic initiatives that will further enhance the Company's operations."
Regarding Belo's outlook for 2005, Decherd said, "From an overall standpoint, we expect Belo's total revenue to increase in the low-to-mid single digit range for full-year 2005 with a low-single digit decrease in Television Group revenues and a mid-to-high single digit increase in Newspaper Group revenues. Excluding the $20 million charge to revenue in 2004 related to the circulation overstatement at The Dallas Morning News and an increase in 2005 of approximately $16 million in circulation revenue at The Morning News related to recommendations from the Circulation Review Team ("CRT"), Newspaper Group revenues are expected to increase in the low-to-mid single digits."
Belo's Television Group will not have significant political or Olympics revenue in 2005. The Television Group had $62.5 million in combined political and Olympics revenue in 2004. Political revenue in 2005 is expected to be about $5 to $8 million.
Television Group total revenues are expected to decrease in the low-single digits for full-year 2005 with a mid-single digit increase in spot revenues excluding political. Television Group interactive revenues are expected to increase approximately 30 percent, from $9 million in 2004 to $12 million in 2005, increasing the overall revenue growth percentage for the Television Group by about half a percentage point.
Belo's Newspaper Group revenues are expected to increase in the mid-to-high single digits in 2005. Revenue is expected to increase at a mid-to-high single digit rate at The Dallas Morning News and The Press-Enterprise in Riverside and at a mid-single digit rate at The Providence Journal.
The annual and quarterly revenue growth percentages for The Dallas Morning News in 2005 will be affected by several items related to the circulation overstatement:
The first quarter is expected to be the most challenging quarter of 2005 for The Dallas Morning News as it will be negatively impacted by approximately $4 million of credit bank use, the reduction in preprints revenue associated with lower preprint distribution levels of approximately $500,000 and almost $1 million of incremental CRT expenses. The second quarter is expected to be impacted by a reduction in preprints revenue of approximately $2 million and incremental CRT expenses of $3 million with only $1.5 million of CRT revenue. The third quarter will be affected by these same items, but CRT revenues are expected to mostly offset CRT expenses. In the third quarter, The Morning News will also cycle positively against $1.1 million of credit bank usage and the $20 million charge against revenue in the third quarter of 2004. In the fourth quarter of 2005, The Morning News is expected to experience a reduction in preprints revenue of approximately $1.5 million, but will cycle positively against $6.9 million of credit bank usage in the fourth quarter of 2004 and expects to have offsetting CRT revenues and expenses.
Interactive revenues at The Morning News are expected to increase from $14.3 million in 2004 to approximately $18.3 million in 2005, an increase of 28.5 percent. This increase will add about half a percentage point to the 2005 expected revenue growth rate for The Morning News.
At The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise, advertising revenues are expected to increase in the mid-to-high single digits and high-single digits, respectively, including interactive revenues in both years. With relatively flat circulation and other revenue, total revenues at The Journal and The Press-Enterprise are expected to increase in the mid-single digits and mid-to-high single digits, respectively.
The Other segment, which is made up primarily of the operations of NorthWest Cable News and Texas Cable News ("TXCN"), will be affected by the re-focused programming approach at TXCN. Revenues for the segment are expected to decrease approximately 20 percent with a decrease in operating costs and expenses of about 25 percent. The result should be an improvement in segment EBITDA and earnings from operations of approximately $1.6 million.
Operating Costs and Expenses
Overall, the Company's operating costs and expenses are expected to increase four to five percent in 2005, including an incremental $10 million for advertising and promotion expense and the $19 million in expected incremental CRT expenses.
Other income (expense) is expected to show income of $1 to $2 million in 2005. Interest expense should be similar to last year while Belo's effective tax rate should be approximately 38 percent in 2005.
Earnings Per Share
Belo currently expects earnings per share for full-year 2005 to be in the range of $1.17 to $1.24 per share. Current analysts' estimates for Belo's full-year 2005 earnings per share range from $1.05 to $1.26 per share with a mean estimate of $1.17 per share.
In the first quarter of 2005, Belo expects earnings per share to range from $0.16 to $0.17, with both Television Group and Newspaper Group revenue down one to two percent. Expenses are expected to increase about two percent in the first quarter of 2005 versus the first quarter of 2004.
As The Dallas Morning News works through the important changes in its distribution processes recommended by the Circulation Review Team, circulation for the March 2005, September 2005 and March 2006 reporting periods is expected to be affected by disruption to normal distribution processes in addition to the impact of the overstatement. The Company will report on the full impact of the CRT and other distribution process improvements in the ordinary course.
For the September 2004 reporting period, The Dallas Morning News showed daily circulation of 497,628 and Sunday circulation of 693,981, a decrease of about 28,000 newspapers daily and 92,000 newspapers Sunday versus September 2003. For the March 2005 reporting period, circulation should be approximately 482,000 daily and 661,000 Sunday, decreases of approximately 46,000 newspapers daily versus March 2004, or 8.7 percent, and 95,000 newspapers Sunday, or 12.6 percent.
Additional information on Belo is available online at www.belo.com, including the full text of the presentation and the archived webcast.
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 7,600 employees and $1.5 billion in annual revenues, Belo operates media franchises in some of America's most dynamic markets and regions, including Texas, the Northwest, the Southwest, Rhode Island, and the Mid-Atlantic. Belo owns 19 television stations (six in the top 15 markets); owns or operates seven cable news channels; and manages one television station through a local marketing agreement. Belo's daily newspapers are The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) and the Denton Record-Chronicle (Denton, TX). Belo operates more than 30 Web sites, several interactive alliances and a broad range of Internet-based products. Additional information, including earnings releases and corporate communications, is available online at www.belo.com. For more information contact Carey Hendrickson, vice president/Investor Relations & Corporate Communications, at 214-977-6626.
Statements in this communication concerning Belo's business outlook or future economic performance, anticipated profitability, revenues, expenses, capital expenditures, investments, future financings or other financial and non-financial items 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 other factors include, but are not limited to, changes in advertising demand, interest rates and newsprint prices; The Dallas Morning News circulation matters, including current and future audits of the newspaper's circulation by the Audit Bureau of Circulations; technological changes, including the transition to digital television and the development of new systems to distribute television and other audio-visual content; development of Internet commerce; industry cycles; changes in pricing or other actions by competitors and suppliers; regulatory changes; adoption of new accounting standards or changes in existing accounting standards by the accounting standard-setting bodies or authorities; 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, including the Annual Report on Form 10-K.