A. H. Belo Corporation (NYSE: AHC) today reported a first quarter net loss from continuing operations of $0.18 per share, an improvement of $0.09 per share compared to the first quarter of 2013, due to strong expense management and growth in circulation, printing and distribution, and marketing services revenue.
The first quarter 2014 net loss includes a $0.9 million net investment-related loss for the partial impairment of the Company's investment in Wanderful Media.
Adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ("EBITDA") from continuing operations with net investment-related losses added back, was $3.2 million in the first quarter of 2014, an increase of $2.3 million or 256 percent compared to the prior year period due primarily to continued expense containment. As of March 31, 2014, cash and cash equivalents were $82.5 million, and the Company had no debt.
Jim Moroney, chairman, president and Chief Executive Officer, said, "First quarter total revenue decreased 1 percent compared to prior year, the lowest year-over-year first quarter decline since our spin-off in 2008. This improved rate of decline reflects our continued focus on diversifying revenue streams, and was driven by continued growth in marketing services revenue and increased printing and distribution revenues in Dallas and Providence, respectively."
First Quarter Results from Continuing Operations
Total revenue was $85.6 million in the first quarter of 2014, a decrease of 1 percent compared to the prior year period.
Revenue from advertising and marketing services, including print and digital revenues, decreased 5 percent. Digital revenue increased 18 percent over the prior year quarter, primarily due to continued growth in automotive digital revenue at The Dallas Morning News and marketing services revenue associated with 508 Digital and Speakeasy. Increases in digital revenue were offset by declines in display, preprint and classified advertising revenues which decreased 16 percent, 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Advertising revenue from niche publications, which is a component of the display, preprint, classified and digital revenues reported above, decreased 5 percent compared to the prior year period due primarily to lower advertising revenue at The Morning News' Spanish-language publication Al Dia.
Circulation revenue increased 1 percent to $29.3 million in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the prior year period due to increased rates for home delivery at The Providence Journal.
Printing and distribution revenue increased 9 percent to $9.4 million in the first quarter of 2014 due primarily to the impact of the previously announced contract to print the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, additional printing of local community newspapers in Dallas and the expansion of the distribution of third-party newspapers at The Providence Journal. These increases were partially offset by lower printing revenue from national publications due to declines in volumes.
Total consolidated operating expense in the first quarter was $88.3 million, a 4 percent decrease compared to the prior year period as employee compensation and benefits, newsprint, distribution and depreciation expenses all decreased.
The Company's newsprint expense in the first quarter was $6.4 million, a decrease of 13 percent compared to the prior year period. Newsprint consumption dropped 10 percent to approximately 11,000 metric tons. Compared to the prior year period, newsprint cost per metric ton and the average purchase price per metric ton for newsprint decreased 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Corporate and non-operating unit expenses in the first quarter were $5.2 million, a decrease of 26 percent compared to the prior year period as employee related expenses, legal, technology and depreciation expenses all decreased.
As of March 31, 2014, A. H. Belo had approximately 1,500 full-time equivalent employees, a decrease of approximately 5 percent compared to the prior year period.
In April 2014, the Company received distribution proceeds of approximately $18.9 million following the sale of Apartments.com by Classified Ventures and recorded a gain of approximately $18.5 million. The Company expects related federal income taxes on such gain to be minimal as a result of previously incurred net operating losses and is finalizing its estimate of state taxes.
The Company continues to explore a potential sale of The Providence Journal with the assistance of its investment bank, Stephens Inc.
A. H. Belo anticipates full-year 2014 EBITDA from continuing operations in the range of $28.0 million to $32.0 million, exclusive of gains or losses from asset dispositions.
For the full-year 2014, total capital expenditures are expected to be in the range of $8.0 million to $10.0 million.
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
Reconciliations of net loss to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations are included as exhibits to this release.
Financial Results Conference Call
A. H. Belo will conduct a conference call on Tuesday, April 29 at 1:00 p.m. CDT to discuss financial results. The conference call will be available via webcast by accessing the Company's website ( www.ahbelo.com/invest ) or by dialing 1-800-230-1059 (USA) or 612-332-0430 (International). A replay line will be available at 1-800-475-6701 (USA) or 320-365-3844 (International) from 3:00 p.m. CDT on April 29 until 11:59 p.m. CDT on May 6, 2014. The access code for the replay is 324154.
About A. H. Belo Corporation
A. H. Belo Corporation (NYSE: AHC), headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is a distinguished newspaper publishing and local news and information company that owns and operates three daily newspapers and related websites. A. H. Belo publishes The Dallas Morning News, Texas' leading newspaper and winner of nine Pulitzer Prizes; The Providence Journal, the oldest continuously-published daily newspaper in the United States and winner of four Pulitzer Prizes; and the Denton Record-Chronicle. The Company publishes various niche publications targeting specific audiences, and its investments include Classified Ventures, owner of Cars.com, and Wanderful Media, owner of FindnSave.com. A. H. Belo offers digital marketing solutions through 508 Digital and Speakeasy and also owns and operates commercial printing, distribution and direct mail service businesses. Additional information is available at www.ahbelo.com or by contacting Alison K. Engel, Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer, at 214-977-2248.
Statements in this communication concerning A. H. Belo Corporation's (the "Company's") business outlook or future economic performance, anticipated profitability, revenues, expenses, dividends, capital expenditures, investments, dispositions, impairments, business initiatives, acquisitions, pension plan contributions and obligations, real estate sales, working capital, future financings and 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 and newsprint prices; newspaper circulation trends and other circulation matters, including changes in readership methods, patterns and demography; and audits and related actions by the Alliance for Audited Media; challenges implementing increased subscription pricing and new pricing structures; challenges in achieving expense reduction goals in a timely manner and the resulting potential effects on operations; challenges in consummating asset acquisitions or dispositions upon acceptable terms; technological changes; development of Internet commerce; industry cycles; changes in pricing or other actions by existing and new competitors and suppliers; consumer acceptance of new products and business initiatives; labor relations; regulatory, tax and legal 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, dispositions, co-owned ventures and investments; pension plan matters; general economic conditions and changes in interest rates; significant armed conflict; acts of terrorism; and other factors beyond our control, as well as other risks described in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K, and in the Company's other public disclosures and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.