October 25, 2007
Belo Reports Results for Third Quarter 2007
DALLAS -- Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) today reported net earnings per share of $0.18 for the third quarter of 2007 as compared to $0.19 for the third quarter of 2006. The third quarter of 2007 included approximately $2.3 million in transaction costs related to the Company's previously announced spin-off of its Newspaper Group, or $0.01 per share on an after-tax basis.
Robert W. Decherd, Belo's chairman and chief executive officer, said, "Belo's results were highlighted by a third straight quarter of superior performance by the Company's Television Group, strong growth in our online businesses and excellent expense management across the Company. Belo's Newspaper Group results were affected by a soft advertising environment particularly at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside where Southern California housing and credit issues have impacted local economies. Despite lower revenues in Belo's Newspaper Group, both The Dallas Morning News and The Providence Journal delivered year-over-year EBITDA increases in the third quarter. In fact, The Dallas Morning News' EBITDA increased 26 percent in the third quarter, an improvement from its 21 percent year-over-year increase recorded in second quarter 2007."
Commenting on the recently announced plan to spin off Belo's newspapers and related assets, Decherd said, "We are very pleased with the positive response, both internally and externally, to our announcement regarding the creation of separate television and newspaper businesses. Significant progress is being made as we work through this transition period. We filed a registration statement for the spin-off with the SEC and we expect to receive comments in mid-November. The spin-off is expected to occur in first quarter 2008 and we look forward to providing more details about the spin-off at the appropriate time." Decherd also announced the New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol for the new A. H. Belo Corporation will be AHC.
Third Quarter in Review
Consolidated revenue totaled $364 million in the third quarter of 2007, a decrease of 3.2 percent versus the third quarter of 2006, with Television Group revenue up 1.8 percent and Newspaper Group revenue down 7.8 percent. The Company's total operating costs and expenses decreased 2.2 percent, benefiting from headcount reductions in 2006, lower pension expense related to the Company's decision to freeze its pension plan effective March 31, 2007, lower newsprint expense from decreases in both consumption and price, and lower distribution expense related primarily to the reduced circulation perimeter of The Dallas Morning News. Consolidated EBITDA decreased 1.7 percent.
Television Group revenue increased 1.8 percent in the third quarter, with political revenue of $3.2 million in the third quarter of 2007 versus $7.5 million in the third quarter of 2006. Total spot revenue, including political, was flat with third quarter 2006 and included a 3.9 percent increase in local spot revenue and a 0.8 percent increase in national spot revenue. Advertising revenue associated with Belo's television station Web sites continued to grow at a high rate, increasing 41 percent versus the third quarter of 2006 to $6.7 million.
Television Group segment costs and expenses increased 2.3 percent in the third quarter versus the same period last year. Television Group segment EBITDA was up one percent versus the prior year.
Newspaper Group total revenue decreased 7.8 percent in the third quarter of 2007, reflecting soft newspaper advertising conditions and the downturn in the Southern California housing market. Decreases were noted in retail, general and classified revenues while preprint revenues were up approximately three percent. Newspaper Group online advertising revenues grew an impressive 25 percent to $13.9 million.
Newspaper Group segment costs and expenses decreased 6.9 percent versus the third quarter of 2006, due in part to prior year headcount reductions at The Dallas Morning News and The Press-Enterprise, and lower newsprint and distribution expenses. Newspaper Group segment EBITDA decreased 11.7 percent versus the prior year's third quarter.
Corporate costs and expenses decreased 2.5% to $23.7 million in the third quarter of 2007, including $2.3 million related to the spin-off transaction, compared to $24.3 million in the third quarter of 2006.
Belo's total depreciation and amortization expense increased 9.3 percent in the third quarter of 2007 due primarily to asset additions related to new facilities at The Press-Enterprise and The Dallas Morning News.
Income tax expense decreased $1.8 million, or 13.9 percent, in the third quarter, in line with earnings results.
Total debt at September 30, 2007 was $1.203 billion. The Company's capital expenditures were $11.3 million in the third quarter of 2007. Interest expense decreased $1.3 million, or 5.4 percent, during the period. Belo's leverage ratio, as defined in the Company's credit facility, was 3.0 times at September 30, 2007.
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
A reconciliation of Consolidated EBITDA to net earnings is set forth in an exhibit to this release.
Implementation of the various components of the agreement between Yahoo! and the Newspaper Consortium, of which Belo is a part, continues. Belo completed the integration of Yahoo!'s HotJobs technology to power its online employment sites in Dallas, Riverside, and Providence and launched Yahoo!'s contextual advertising and Web search capability in those markets as well.
Last month, Belo announced a new strategic investment and partnership with Mochila, Inc. that deepens Belo's commitment in new media. Mochila is a global online media marketplace for text, video and photo content for publishers, editors, content creators and advertisers. Belo will offer its local content for syndication and distribution via the Mochila marketplace. The partnership creates a new opportunity for Belo to monetize and expand the reach of its high-quality content.
Fourth Quarter Outlook
Regarding Belo's outlook for the fourth quarter of 2007, Dennis A. Williamson, executive vice president/Chief Financial Officer, said, "While we expect spot revenue excluding political to be up in the mid-single digits, we expect total Television Group revenues to be down in the mid-single digits as we cycle against $31.6 million of political revenue in the fourth quarter of 2006. Adjusting for one less Sunday in the fourth quarter, we expect Newspaper Group revenues to be down consistent with what we've experienced during the first nine months of 2007. We again expect operating expenses to be less than the prior year after adjusting for anticipated charges related to the spin-off."
A conference call to discuss this earnings release and other matters of interest to shareholders and analysts will follow at 1:00 p.m. CDT this afternoon. The conference call will be simultaneously Webcast on the Company's Web site (www.belo.com/invest). Following the conclusion of the Webcast, a replay of the conference call will be archived on Belo's Web site.
To access the listen-only conference lines, dial 1-888-428-4480. A replay line will be open from 4:30 p.m. CDT on October 25 until 11:59 p.m. CDT November 1. To access the replay, dial 800-475-6701 or 320-365-3844. The access code for the replay is 888496.
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 7,000 employees and $1.6 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 20 television stations, six of which are in the 15 largest U.S. broadcast markets. The Company also owns or operates six cable news stations 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 Dia 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 Paul Fry, vice president/Investor Relations & Corporate Communications, at 214-977-6835.
Statements in this communication concerning Belo's business outlook or future economic performance, anticipated profitability, revenue, 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, uncertainties regarding the execution, timing, costs, consequences (including tax consequences), and other effects of the spin-off of the newspaper business of Belo; 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 patterns and demography, and audits and related actions 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; Federal Communications Commission and other 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.