June 20, 2006
Belo Presents at the Mid-Year Media Review Conference, Provides Second Quarter Outlook
NEW YORK -- Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) presented at the Mid-Year Media Review in New York on Tuesday, June 20, 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, "We are in the midst of transforming Belo's businesses to compete effectively in what is becoming an increasingly Internet-centric marketplace. We are launching new products, reengineering our cost structure and reallocating human, financial and capital resources to match the Company's forward strategy, while constantly looking to take costs out of our business overall. We are determined to remain the content provider of choice in our local markets and are confident that we have the assets and management talent to succeed."
Decherd emphasized the quality of Belo's assets and strength of the industries in which Belo operates. Decherd said, "Contrary to gloom and doom predictions, newspapers are in fact doing a great job at building and maintaining audiences and delivering strong value to advertising partners. All of Belo's newspapers have increased their audiences since 2001 with innovative niche products and strong local Web sites.
"Local television stations remain the foundation of consumer media usage. Adults spend significantly more time with television than with other media. At Belo's television stations, the intense focus on quality journalistic content leads to high ratings. Year after year, Belo's television stations are among the highest rated in their markets.
"Belo's Internet businesses extend across the entire enterprise, and we are concentrating on our competencies rather than trying to emulate pure Internet competitors. Since 2000, Belo's Internet businesses have increased six-fold in advertising revenues, growing at a compound annual rate of 41 percent. In the first quarter of 2006, online advertising revenue increased 57 percent versus the first quarter of 2005. Page views on Belo's Web sites increased an average of 26 percent per year for 2000 through 2005 and grew another 46 percent in the first quarter of 2006 versus the first quarter of 2005. These robust growth trends illustrate why we are shifting more resources to capitalize on this increasingly profitable business."
In discussing Belo's financial performance, Dennis A. Williamson, Belo's executive vice president/Chief Financial Officer, said, "Belo's financial performance to date reflects the Company's enterprise-wide transformation process which began in earnest in the first quarter of 2006. We are making significant progress on important initiatives throughout the Company and expect to finish the year in a strong financial position."
Williamson continued, "Television Group spot revenues increased less than one percent in April and were up 4.2 percent in May. June spot revenues are currently pacing up about eight percent which would result in second quarter spot revenue growth of approximately four percent, which is greater than our previous projection. Total Television Group revenues are projected to be up four to five percent, including a 50-plus percent increase in Internet advertising revenues.
"For full-year 2006, we continue to expect Television Group revenue to increase in the mid-to-high single digits. Expenses are expected to increase three to four percent resulting in a low-double digit increase in Television Group segment EBITDA, which is higher than our previous projection.
"Newspaper Group advertising revenues decreased about two percent on a like-days basis in April and about one percent in May. The Company currently expects June advertising revenues to finish up about one percent, resulting in a decrease of about one percent for the second quarter overall. Newspaper Group total revenue is expected to increase about one percent in the second quarter, including an estimated $8 million in incremental circulation revenue at The Dallas Morning News related primarily to a change from a buy-sell arrangement with contractors to a fee-for-delivery system.
"For full-year 2006, Newspaper Group projections have tempered somewhat from original expectations. Full-year Newspaper Group revenue is expected to increase in the low-to-mid single digits, including $24 million in estimated incremental circulation revenue at The Dallas Morning News related to the change in circulation distribution methods, with a low-single digit increase in advertising revenue. Full-year Newspaper Group expenses are expected to be lower than previous projections, up in the five to six percent range including incremental circulation distribution expenses at The Morning News of an estimated $20 million. Full-year EBITDA for the Newspaper Group is currently expected to be down mid-to-high single digits."
Belo expects total operating costs and expenses to increase about 10 percent in the second quarter, which is better than previous guidance. Most of this increase is attributable to new share-based compensation costs, one-time transition expenses associated with transformational initiatives, and unfavorable comparisons related to new product initiatives launched in the second half of 2005. Excluding these items and an estimated $6.5 million in incremental expenses related to the change in circulation distribution methods at The Dallas Morning News , all other expenses should be up about three percent in the second quarter. Full-year 2006 expenses are expected to increase in the mid-to-high single digits on a reported basis and low-to-mid single digits excluding incremental costs related to circulation distribution initiatives, share-based compensation and severance costs.
Interest expense for the second quarter should increase about 10 percent due to higher debt levels associated with share repurchases. The Company's effective tax rate for the second quarter should be slightly less than 39 percent.
Based on the revenue and expense assumptions noted, Belo expects earnings per share for the second quarter of 2006 to range from $0.33 to $0.34, including a $0.04 after-tax gain related to a change-in-control provision in one of the Company's vendor contracts.
About Belo Corp.
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 7,700 employees and more than $1.5 billion in annual revenues, Belo operates in some of America's most dynamic markets in Texas, the Northwest, the Southwest, the Mid-Atlantic and Rhode Island. 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, and the fast-growing Hispanic market, including Quick and Al D a in Dallas/Fort Worth, and 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, dividends, 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; the recovery of the New Orleans market (where the Company owns and operates market-leading television station WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate) from the effects of Hurricane Katrina; 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.