June 22, 2005
Belo presents at the Mid-Year Media Review Conference, provides second quarter outlook
New York, NY -- Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) presented at the Mid-Year Media Review in New York on Wednesday, 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.
Robert W. Decherd, Belo's chairman, president and chief executive officer, noted, "Across all our media companies, we are aggressively implementing Belo's growth strategy for 2005 and beyond. Our marketing and sales initiatives are capitalizing on improving economic trends, and we are extending our leadership positions through innovative new products that appeal to audiences and advertisers alike."
Decherd emphasized the quality of the markets in which Belo operates and cited the improving economies in some of Belo's key markets, including Dallas/Fort Worth. Regarding Dallas/Fort Worth, Decherd said, "The improving economy and job growth in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are positively impacting the classified employment category at The Dallas Morning News. We are hopeful that the effects of the improving economy will soon extend to other important advertising categories at The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV."
Decherd also updated the investment community on progress related to strategic actions identified in Belo's 2004 Strategy Project and discussed several new products and initiatives being introduced throughout the Company to capitalize on the powerful brands of Belo operating companies in their local markets.
Highlighting the extensive efforts underway at The Dallas Morning News to improve circulation and distribution processes, Decherd said, "All of these changes are being made in an expedient but determined manner, recognizing that reported circulation will be affected in the short term due to the number and magnitude of simultaneous initiatives. Looking ahead to the September 2005 Publisher's Statement, The Morning News' circulation will be impacted by these and normal seasonal declines from March to September. Like all major metro newspapers, The Morning News is working to stem single copy sales declines. Our goal is to deliver a September 2005 Publisher's Statement that is down three percent or less daily and two percent or less Sunday versus the March 2005 circulation figures."
In discussing Belo's financial performance, Dennis A. Williamson, Belo's senior corporate vice president and chief financial officer, said, "As anticipated, we entered the second quarter with difficult revenue comparisons in the Television Group due to the absence of significant political revenue. We've also experienced weaker than expected national revenues in the second quarter at our television stations. In the Newspaper Group, classified advertising continues to show strong growth, with significant increases in real estate and employment more than offsetting declines in automotive."
Williamson continued, "We currently expect Television Group spot revenues to decrease about four percent in the second quarter of 2005 versus the second quarter of the previous year, while Newspaper Group advertising revenues are expected to increase about three percent for the second quarter overall. With an expected increase of approximately three percent in total operating costs and expenses, second quarter earnings per share should be $0.35 to $0.36. We continue to expect full-year 2005 earnings per share to be in a range from $1.17 to $1.24."
Williamson noted that the third and fourth quarters of 2005 will be challenging as the Television Group cycles against $22 million in combined political and Olympics revenue in the third quarter and $28.4 million of political revenue in the fourth quarter.
Newspaper Group revenues in the third and fourth quarters will be favorably impacted by the absence of advertising credits associated with The Dallas Morning News' voluntary advertiser plan. From September through December 2004, advertisers utilized approximately $8 million in advertising credits, which Belo estimates displaced about $6.5 million in revenue.
The Morning News continues to expect increases in circulation revenue and associated expenses in the second half of 2005 related to the newspaper's move from buy-sell arrangements with independent contractors to a fee-based compensation system. Williamson said, "We currently
anticipate incremental circulation revenue of approximately $14 million for full-year 2005 with incremental expenses of approximately $18 million. In 2006, incremental circulation revenues are expected to offset incremental circulation expenses."
Williamson noted the significant debt paydown Belo has achieved over the last three years giving the Company excellent flexibility regarding the use of investment capital. Funding previously-announced special capital projects in Dallas, New Orleans and Riverside, pursuing the acquisition of an additional television station in markets where Belo already has a presence, increasing dividends on a systematic basis and repurchasing shares of Belo stock were noted as priorities for the use of cash generated from the Company's operations. Regarding stock repurchase, Williamson noted, "Year-to-date, we have repurchased 2.2 million shares, 1.7 million more than stock options exercised. For full-year 2005, we expect to repurchase three to four million shares more than option exercises. This is an increase from the one to two million shares above exercises previously communicated. At recent price levels, we view stock repurchases as an attractive use of cash."
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 7,600 employees and $1.5 billion in annual revenues, Belo operates in some of America's most dynamic markets in Texas, the Northwest, the Southwest, Rhode Island, and the Mid-Atlantic. Belo owns 19 television stations, six of which are in the 15 largest U.S. broadcast markets. The Company also 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). The Company also publishes specialty publications targeting young adults, affluent populations and the fast-growing Hispanic market, including Quick and al dia in Dallas/Fort Worth,
and the d, El D and La Prensa in Riverside. Belo operates more than 30 Web sites associated with its operating companies. Additional information is available at www.belo.com or by contacting 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 factors include, but are not limited to, changes in capital market conditions and prospects, and other factors such as changes in advertising demand, interest rates and newsprint prices; newspaper circulation matters, including changes in readership, and audits and related actions (including the censure of The Dallas Morning News) 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 Financial Accounting Standards Board or other 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 Belo's other public disclosures, and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), including the Annual Report on Form 10-K.