The E.W. Scripps Company reported operating results for the second quarter of 2013 that reflect an increase in local and national television advertising revenues and an increase in segment profit at the newspaper group. The Company also successfully rolled out its bundled subscription model in 11 of 13 newspaper markets.

"Although masked by the near absence of political advertising in 2013, the off year for elections, our core television revenues showed good growth on the strength of  expanding local audiences," said Rich Boehne, Scripps chairman, president and CEO.  "Local, national and digital advertising all grew, and retransmission fees moved up 34 percent.

"At the same time, expenses were down in the television division thanks to the success of our programming strategy. We now have two Scripps-owned shows on the air, Let's Ask America and The List, and partner in another, Right This Minute, which are quickly building audiences and lessening our reliance on purchased syndicated shows.

"In the newspaper division, segment profit grew despite a moderate decline in print advertising due to expense discipline. We rolled out bundled digital and print subscriptions in 11 of our 13 markets and have been pleased with the growth in new digital-only subscribers.

"Across the country this summer, we're rolling out the next generation of news apps and Internet news brands, designed to set our brands apart for engagement with fast-growing audiences through high-quality enterprise reporting and multi-platform story telling. These new digital news products are being accompanied by an expanded advertising sales force dedicated to garnering more than our share of this evolving marketplace. We're on track to add 100 experienced digital advertising sales reps in our markets by the end of the year."

Consolidated revenues were $207.9 million, a decrease of 4.2 percent, or $9.1 million, from the second quarter of 2012.  Political advertising revenues decreased $10.4 million in this off-cycle period.

Costs and expenses for segments, shared services and corporate were $183.9 million, which represents a 0.9 percent decline from the prior-year period.

In the 2013 quarter, the Company reported income from operations before income taxes of $3.9 million compared to $9.7 million in the year-ago quarter.

Net income was $3.2 million, or 5 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2013, compared to $5.4 million, or 9 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2012. The tax benefit for the 2013 quarter includes $1.2 million, or 2 cents per share, in favorable adjustments to the reserve for prior-year income taxes.

Second-quarter results by segment are as follows:

Television

In the second quarter of 2013, revenue from television stations was $111.4 million, down $5.7 million from the prior-year period.  Increases in local and national time sales and retransmission fees were not enough to offset expected declines in political advertising.

Excluding political advertising, television revenues increased 4.5 percent. Retransmission revenue was up 34 percent.

Advertising revenue broken down by category was:

  • Local, up 1.5 percent to $61.2 million

  • National, up 3.3 percent to $32.5 million

  • Political, $0.8 million compared to $11.2 million in the 2012 quarter

Digital revenue in the second quarter increased 14 percent to $4.1 million.

Expenses for the TV station group were down 1.6 percent, primarily due to lower syndicated programming costs.

Second-quarter segment profit in the television division was $30.5 million, compared to $34.9 million in the second quarter of 2012.

Newspapers

Total revenue from newspapers in the second quarter was $93.5 million, down 3.8 percent from the second quarter of 2012 but an improvement over the first-quarter decline of 4.7 percent.

Advertising and marketing services revenue declined to $60.5 million, down 4.5 percent from the same period a year ago.

Advertising and marketing services revenue broken down by category was:

  • Classified, down 11.3 percent to $17.1 million

        - Real Estate – down 5.3 percent

        - Employment – down 17.5 percent

        - Automotive – down 9.6 percent

  • Local, down 4.7 percent to $18.5 million

  • Preprint and other, up 0.2 percent to $16 million

  • National, down 8.9 percent to $2 million

  • Digital, up 6.6 percent, to $6.9 million. Pure-play digital revenue increased 11 percent over the year-ago quarter.

Subscription revenue decreased 1.9 percent to $28.1 million. During the quarter, Scripps launched bundled digital and print subscriptions in 11 of its 13 markets.  More than 20 percent of subscribers established their digital accounts with full access to content on their smartphones, desktops and tablets. The rollout was late in the quarter and therefore did not impact second-quarter subscription revenue.

Total segment expenses decreased 5.4 percent to $87.6 million. Employee costs decreased 8.7 percent, primarily due to lower employment levels.  Newsprint expense decreased 13.7 percent, due to lower volume and lower price.

The newspaper division’s segment profit in the second quarter was $5.9 million, an increase from $4.6 million in the prior year period.

Shared services and corporate

The “shared services and corporate” line of the Company’s financial statements includes certain incremental investments in hiring and developing digital-only sales people, streamlining the digital sales process, and creating digital content.

Shared services and corporate expenses increased $4.3 million to $12.1 million. Nearly all of this increase was due to costs to grow digital offerings and revenue.

Financial condition

Cash and cash equivalents totaled $218 million at June 30, 2013, while total debt was $188 million. We repurchased 1.7 million shares for $24.3 million in the second quarter and 2.7 million shares for $34.9 million year to date.

Year-to-date results

For the first half of the year, revenue was $407 million, compared to $424 million in the prior-year period.  Political advertising declined $14.8 million year over year.

In the first six months of 2013, the Company reported a $3.7 million loss from operations before income taxes, compared to income from operations before income taxes of $2.3 million in 2012. The prior-year period included acquisition-integration costs of $5.8 million, primarily a non-cash charge to terminate an agreement with the previous national sales representation firm of the acquired stations.

Year-to-date, costs and expenses for segments, shared services and corporate were $371.5 million. That number is down $3.8 million from the same period in 2012, despite $7.6 million of incremental expenses this year to grow digital operations.

Net income was $0.5 million, or 1 cent per share, in the first half of 2013, compared with $1.0 million, or 2 cents per share, in the first half of 2012.  The current-year tax benefit includes $2.4 million, or 4 cents per share, in favorable adjustments to the reserve for prior-year income taxes. Acquisition-integration costs reduced the prior-year earnings per share by approximately 6 cents.

Looking ahead

For year-over-year performance of key metrics in the third quarter of 2013, management expects:

  • Television revenues to be down mid- to high teens (prior-year period includes $34 million of political advertising)

  • Television expenses to be about flat

  • The decline in revenues in the newspaper group to continue to moderate and expenses to decline low single digits

  • Expenses for shared services and corporate to be approximately $15 million

For the full year of 2013, the Company expects:

  • Television revenues to be down low teens due to the political off-year

  • Television expenses to be down low single digits

  • Newspaper revenues and expenses to decline at a low-single-digit rate, with the decline in expenses being greater than the decline in revenue

  • Depreciation and amortization to be approximately $50 million

  • Capital expenditures to be approximately $25 million

  • Expenses for shared services and corporate to be about $55 million



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