March 4, 2014 Last Updated 7:49 am

Journal Communications releases earnings influenced by lack of political ads in quarter, one less week to report

Media company forecasts modest gains in revenue for next quarter, continued declines in publishing

Press Release:

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. – March 4, 2014 — Journal Communications, Inc. today announced results for its fourth quarter and full year ended December 29, 2013. All reported results below were impacted by an extra week in 2012 compared to 2013. Note that the fourth quarter of 2013 included 13 weeks and the full year 2013 included 52 weeks, versus 14 weeks and 53 weeks in the corresponding prior periods. Our Palm Springs television stations have been reported as discontinued operations in the fourth quarter and full year in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

“Journal Communications delivered a solid fourth quarter in a non-political year, driven by gains in core revenue in our broadcast group and improving advertising revenue trends in publishing. Revenue from NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, acquired in December 2012, helped us replace some of the record political advertising dollars we recorded in the fourth quarter last year. Consolidated revenue of $107.4 million was up 11% compared to 2012, excluding the extra week and political revenue in 2012,” said Steven J. Smith, Chairman and CEO of Journal Communications.

“Within the broadcast group, same-station core revenue, excluding political and the extra week, was up 7%, with television up 11% and radio up 1%. Television retransmission revenue more than doubled to $5.9 million. The daily newspaper continues to benefit from an improved advertising environment. Advertising revenue, excluding the extra week, was flat. Focused sales efforts, along with ongoing expense controls, contributed to a 2% increase in operating earnings for the daily newspaper.”

“Overall, in addition to growing core revenue, we enhanced our digital offerings and content in both broadcast and publishing, and continued to deliver on our financial commitments and strategic plans.”

Fourth Quarter 2013 Results (Continuing Operations)

Note that unless otherwise indicated, all comparisons are to the fourth quarter ended December 30, 2012 (14 weeks). The fourth quarter of 2013 contained 13 weeks. The estimated impact on revenue of the extra week in the fourth quarter of 2012 is summarized in Table 4. Same-station results exclude the results of Nashville NewsChannel 5 which was acquired in December 2012.

In the fourth quarter, revenue of $107.4 million decreased 12.1%, though increased 11.0% excluding political and the extra week. Digital revenue of $5.5 million grew 1.0%. Operating earnings of $19.9 million decreased 24.4% driven primarily by lower political revenue that was partially offset by the Nashville NewsChannel 5 earnings.

Included in operating earnings were the following special items:

  • $0.7 million in broadcast contract termination fees in 2013;
  • $2.2 million in broadcast acquisition-related expenses in 2012; and,
  • $1.7 million in non-cash broadcast license impairment charges in 2012.

Excluding the special items and the extra week, operating earnings decreased 28.8%. Total expenses of $87.4 million decreased 8.7%. Excluding the special items and the extra week, total expenses decreased 0.6%.

The operating margin was 18.6% compared to 21.6%. Adjusted EBITDA, as defined in Table 5, was $25.8 million, a decrease of 27.5%.

Net earnings were $11.3 million, a decrease of 25.4%. There were $0.2 million of net earnings from Palm Springs discontinued operations in 2013 compared to $0.5 million in 2012.

In the fourth quarter, basic and diluted earnings per share of class A and B common stock were $0.22 compared to $0.30 in 2012, which includes $0.01 from discontinued operations in 2012. The net impact of the special items and the extra week had a $0.01 and a $0.03 negative impact on our diluted earnings per share of class A and B common stock from continuing operations in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

Full Year 2013 Results (Continuing Operations)

Note that unless otherwise indicated, all comparisons are to the full year ended December 30, 2012 (53 weeks). The full year ended December 29, 2013 contained 52 weeks. The estimated impact on revenue of the extra week in 2012 is shown in Table 4. Same-station results exclude the results of Nashville NewsChannel 5 which was acquired in December 2012 and Tulsa radio stations KBEZ-FM and KHTT-FM acquired in June 2012.

For the full year, revenue of $397.3 million increased 1.1%, or 2.6% excluding the extra week in 2012. Digital revenue of $19.3 million grew 14.7%. Operating earnings of $51.3 million decreased 12.6% driven by lower political and Olympics revenue partially offset by operating earnings of NewsChannel 5.

Included in operating earnings were the following special items:

  • $1.6 million in broadcast acquisition-related expenses in 2013 and $3.1 million in 2012;
  • $0.9 million publishing workforce reduction charges in 2013 and $1.7 million in 2012;
  • $0.7 million in broadcast contract termination fees in 2013;
  • $0.2 million in non-cash building impairment charges in 2013 and $0.5 million in 2012; and,
  • $1.7 million in non-cash broadcast license impairment charges in 2012.

Excluding the special items and the extra week in 2012, operating earnings decreased 15.2%. Total expenses of $345.9 million increased 3.5%. Excluding the special items and the extra week, total expenses increased 6.1%.

The operating margin was 12.9% compared to 14.9%. Adjusted EBITDA, as defined in Table 5, was $76.9 million, a decrease of 12.3%.

Net earnings were $26.2 million, a decrease of 21.4%. There were no net earnings from Palm Springs discontinued operations in 2013 compared to $0.7 million in 2012.

For the full year, basic and diluted net earnings per share of class A and B common stock were $0.52 compared to $0.61. Basic and diluted earnings per share of class A and B common stock from discontinued operations were $0.01 in 2012. The net impact of the special items and the extra week had a $0.04 and $0.07 negative impact on our diluted earnings per share of class A and B common stock from continuing operations in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

Segment Results

Broadcasting

Revenue decreased 13.1% to $65.7 million in the fourth quarter and increased 6.4% to $243.4 million for the full year. Excluding the extra week, revenue decreased 9.3% in the fourth quarter, though increased 7.9% for the full year. Total political and Olympics revenue in the fourth quarter was $0.4 million and $1.6 million for the full year compared to $19.9 million and $38.0 million. Expenses decreased 4.7% in the fourth quarter, though increased 14.0% for the full year. Excluding special items and the extra week, same-station expenses decreased 4.8% in the fourth quarter, though increased 3.6% for the full year. Operating earnings of $15.2 million in the fourth quarter and $45.4 million for the year decreased 32.7% and 17.4%, respectively, driven by lower political revenue, partially offset by operating earnings from acquisitions.

Television

In the fourth quarter, revenue decreased 15.5% to $45.1 million, or 32.5% excluding the extra week on a same-station basis. Television political revenue was $0.3 million compared to $19.2 million. On a same-station basis excluding the extra week and political revenue, total revenue was up 10.6%, local revenue increased 2.1% and national revenue increased 11.4%. Retransmission revenue was $5.9 million compared to $2.9 million.

In the fourth quarter, operating expenses decreased 0.9%. On a same-station basis excluding special items and the extra week, expenses decreased 6.5% driven by lower sales commissions. Operating earnings were $10.9 million.

For the full year, revenue increased 9.3% to $166.6 million, though decreased 17.1% on a same-station basis excluding the extra week. Television political and Olympics revenue was $1.3 million compared to $36.3 million. On a same-station basis excluding political, Olympics revenue and the extra week, total revenue increased 9.0%, local revenue increased 4.1% and national revenue increased 5.5%. Retransmission revenue was $21.9 million compared to $10.2 million.

For the full year, operating expenses increased 21.3%. On a same-station basis excluding special items and the extra week, expenses increased 2.9%. Operating earnings were $31.4 million.

Radio

In the fourth quarter, revenue decreased 7.2% to $20.5 million or 2.3% excluding the extra week on a same-station basis. Radio political revenue was $0.1 million compared to $0.7 million. On a same-station basis, excluding political and the extra week, total revenue increased 0.6%, local revenue increased 0.1%, though national revenue decreased 22.8%.

In the fourth quarter, operating expenses decreased 12.0%. On a same-station basis, excluding special items and the extra week, expenses decreased 1.7%. Operating earnings were $4.3 million.

For the full year, revenue increased 0.7% to $76.8 million or 1.7% on a same-station basis excluding the extra week. Radio political revenue was $0.4 million compared to $1.7 million. On a same-station basis excluding political and the extra week, total revenue increased 3.7%, local revenue increased 3.5%, though national revenue decreased 8.9%.

For the full year, operating expenses increased 0.8%. On a same-station basis excluding special items and the extra week, expenses increased 4.9% due to a favorable music license fee settlement recorded in 2012, partially off-set by higher employee costs. Operating earnings from radio were $14.0 million.

Publishing

Revenue of $41.8 million decreased 10.4% for the fourth quarter and decreased 6.3% to $154.6 million for the full year. Excluding the extra week and the northern Wisconsin publications sold in 2012, revenue decreased 0.9% for the quarter, though increased 0.6% for the full year.

Expenses decreased 13.0% in the fourth quarter and decreased 8.2% for the year. Excluding the northern Wisconsin publications, special items and extra week, expenses decreased 2.8% in the fourth quarter and 1.1% for the year. Operating earnings increased 6.5% to $6.6 million in the fourth quarter and 18.6% to $13.8 million for the full year.

Daily Newspaper

In the fourth quarter, revenue decreased 7.9% to $38.2 million or 1.8% excluding the extra week. Retail advertising revenue decreased 4.0%, though increased 2.5% excluding the extra week. Classified advertising revenue decreased 10.6%, or 6.4% excluding the extra week, largely due to a decrease in employment advertising. Interactive advertising revenue of $3.5 million decreased 11.1%, or 8.0% excluding the extra week, driven by a decrease in political revenue, retail sponsorships and classified employment revenue. Circulation revenue decreased 7.9% to $12.6 million, or 1.2% excluding the extra week.

In the fourth quarter, operating expenses decreased 9.7% or 3.8% excluding the extra week. Total newsprint and paper expense decreased 16.8% for fourth quarter driven by lower volume and the extra week. Operating earnings increased 2.1% to $6.3 million.

For the full year, revenue decreased 2.5% to $140.0 million or 0.7% excluding the extra week. Retail advertising revenue increased 2.1%, or 4.2% excluding the extra week. Classified advertising revenue decreased 7.5%, or 6.5% excluding the extra week, largely due to a decrease in employment advertising. Interactive advertising revenue of $12.8 million increased 3.7%, or 4.9% excluding the extra week. Circulation revenue decreased 4.7% to $48.8 million, or 2.9% excluding the extra week.

For the full year, operating expenses decreased 4.0%, or 1.8% excluding special items and the extra week. Total newsprint and paper expense decreased 8.8% for the year driven by lower volume. Operating earnings increased 16.5% to $12.8 million.

Community Newspapers

In the fourth quarter, revenue decreased 30.0% to $3.6 million. Excluding the northern Wisconsin publications sold in 2012 and the extra week, revenue increased 10.6%, driven by an increase in commercial printing revenue from the northern Wisconsin publications that we have continued to print following the sale.

In the fourth quarter, operating expenses decreased 35.6%, though increased 7.9% excluding costs related to the northern Wisconsin publications sold in 2012 and the extra week. Operating earnings were $0.3 million in 2013 and were negligible in 2012 despite recording a $0.3 million pre-tax loss on the sale of the northern Wisconsin publications.

For the full year, revenue decreased 32.0% to $14.5 million, though increased 15.1% excluding the northern Wisconsin publications sold in 2012 and the extra week. Operating expenses decreased 34.6% primarily due to the sale on the northern Wisconsin publications. Operating earnings were $1.0 million compared to $0.6 million in 2012, which included a $0.3 million pre-tax loss on the sale of the northern Wisconsin publications.

Corporate

The operating loss for the fourth quarter was $1.9 million compared to $2.4 million. The decrease in the operating loss was driven by lower management incentive compensation and the extra week.

For the full year, the operating loss was $7.9 million in both years.

Discontinued Operations

Discontinued operations reflect the after-tax results of our two Palm Springs television stations which we agreed to sell in 2013. The sale closed effective January 1, 2014 and we will recognize a pre-tax gain of approximately $10.2 million in the first quarter of 2014. Earnings from discontinued operations, net of tax, in the fourth quarter were $0.2 million compared to $0.5 million. For the full year, there were no earnings from discontinued operations, net of tax, compared to $0.7 million in 2012.

Non-Operating Items

Other expense, which primarily consists of interest expense, was $1.8 million in the fourth quarter compared to $2.1 million due to a lower average debt balance in 2013. For the full year, other expense was $7.9 million compared to $4.5 million driven by increased borrowings related to the December 2012 acquisition of NewsChannel 5 in Nashville.

The fourth quarter and full year effective tax rates were 38.9% and 39.6% in 2013, respectively, compared to 39.9% and 40.0% in 2012, respectively.

Notes Payable to Banks and Cash Flows

At year end, total debt was $208.2 million, a decrease of $37.8 million from year-end 2012. Of the $208.2 million debt, $195.0 million was drawn on our senior secured credit facilities and an additional $13.3 million remained outstanding in unsecured subordinated notes payable to the former holders of our class C shares. Our consolidated funded debt ratio, as defined in our credit agreement, was 2.67-to-1. Cash from operating activities in 2013 was $53.4 million, a decrease of 29.0% driven by lower operating earnings. Year-to-date capital expenditures were $12.4 million compared to $12.3 million.

First Quarter 2014 Outlook

In the first quarter of 2014, excluding political and Olympics revenue, we expect total broadcast revenue to be up in the low-single digits over the first quarter of 2013. In publishing, we expect revenue declines in the low-single digits as compared to the first quarter of 2013.

JournalComm-earnings

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