Meredith reports revenue and income growth fueled by broadcast acquisitions
National Media Group digital advertising revenues increased nearly 45 percent to a fiscal second quarter record
DES MOINES, Iowa – January 28, 2015 — Meredith Corporatio, the leading media and marketing company serving more than 100 million American women, today reported fiscal 2015 second quarter earnings per share grew 30 percent to $0.87 compared to $0.67 in the prior-year period. Total revenues rose 13 percent to $399 million, including 25 percent growth in advertising revenues.
Excluding special charges in both periods, fiscal 2015 second quarter earnings per share grew 45 percent to a second quarter record of $1.00, compared to $0.69 in the prior-year period, and operating profit margin increased nearly five percentage points to 20 percent. Fiscal 2015 second quarter results included special charges of $6 million after tax, or $0.13 per share, primarily due to transaction and integration expenses related to recent acquisitions. Special charges in the prior-year period were also primarily due to acquisition-related expenses. (See Tables 1-4 for supplemental disclosures regarding non-GAAP financial measures).
“We continued our strong momentum in the second quarter of fiscal 2015, again delivering higher cash flow and returns to our shareholders,” said Meredith Chairman and CEO Stephen M. Lacy. “Advertising trends strengthened, our recent acquisitions are performing above expectations, and our brands are stronger than ever with consumers across our media platforms and at retail.”
Looking more closely at Meredith’s fiscal 2015 second quarter compared to the prior-year period, excluding special charges:
- Local Media Group revenues increased 50 percent to an all-time quarterly record $157 million. Operating profit and EBITDA also set records, growing more than 60 percent each to $60 million and $70 million, respectively. Growth was spurred by the addition of television stations KMOV in St. Louis, KTVK in Phoenix and WGGB in Springfield, Mass.; record political advertising; and higher net retransmission contribution.
- National Media Group operating profit grew 7 percent and margin strengthened, driven by increased advertising revenues – including record fiscal second quarter digital advertising performance; improved performance by Meredith Xcelerated Marketing; and a 4 percent decrease in operating expenses.
- Total Company digital advertising revenues grew 45 percent to an all-time quarterly record, driven by both recent acquisitions and organic growth. National Media Group digital advertising revenues increased nearly 45 percent, while Local Media Group digital advertising revenues grew more than 50 percent.
- Consumer engagement expanded across Meredith’s media platforms. According to the latest Magazine Media 360 Brand Audience Report, Meredith’s national brands grew their multi-channel audience reach 20 percent to more than 230 million consumers on a monthly basis across print, digital, mobile and video. Meredith’s television stations delivered a strong November ratings book. Additionally, traffic to Meredith’s digital and mobile sites averaged nearly 70 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore.
- Meredith continued to strategically expand its portfolio, including the acquisitions of television stations in Mobile-Pensacola and Springfield, Mass.; licensing the rights to operate the Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings media properties; and acquiring digital businesses Mywedding.com and Selectable Media. Earlier today, Meredith announced the acquisition of the Shape print and digital brand from American Media Inc. Meredith expects these portfolio additions will be accretive to earnings and cash flow in fiscal 2015, consistent with its Total Shareholder Return strategy.
Fiscal 2015 first half earnings per share grew 27 percent to $1.52 compared to $1.20 in the prior-year period. Excluding special charges in both periods, earnings per share rose 35 percent to $1.65 from $1.22 (See Tables 1-4). Total revenues rose 8 percent to $770 million.
OPERATING GROUP DETAIL
LOCAL MEDIA GROUP
Meredith’s Local Media Group includes 17 owned or operated television stations reaching nearly 11 percent of U.S. households. Meredith’s portfolio is concentrated in large, fast-growing markets, including seven stations in the nation’s Top 25 and 13 in Top 50 markets. Meredith’s stations produce approximately 650 hours of local news and entertainment content each week. Meredith expects to continue to grow its Local Media Group both organically and through strategic acquisitions.
Fiscal 2015 second quarter Local Media Group operating profit was $55 million. Excluding special charges, operating profit grew 64 percent to an all-time quarterly record of $60 million; EBITDA grew to a second quarter record of $70 million; and EBITDA margin was 44 percent. Revenues rose 50 percent to $157 million, also an all-time quarterly record.
Looking more closely at fiscal 2015 second quarter performance compared to the prior-year period:
- Total advertising revenues increased 58 percent to $125 million, an all-time quarterly record.
- Political advertising revenues were $29 million and totaled $42 million for the first half of fiscal 2015 – both record highs. In addition to contributions from newly acquired stations in St. Louis and Phoenix, Meredith’s existing stations in Phoenix, Hartford and Kansas City generated significant political dollars.
- Non-political advertising revenues grew 22 percent to $95 million, benefiting from the recent acquisitions and strong digital advertising revenue performance.
- Other revenues and operating expenses increased, due primarily to growth in retransmission revenues from cable and satellite television operators and higher programming fees paid to affiliated networks, along with contributions from recent acquisitions. Most of Meredith’s retransmission agreements with cable and satellite operators are scheduled for renegotiation in the next 24 months. Meanwhile, most of Meredith’s network affiliation agreements are in place into fiscal 2017 and beyond.
On Dec. 19, 2014, Meredith completed the acquisition of WALA, the Fox affiliate in Mobile-Pensacola, for $86 million. On Oct. 31, 2014, Meredith completed the acquisition of WGGB, the ABC affiliate in Springfield, Mass. for $53 million.
“Our television expansion strategy is producing strong revenue and profit growth,” said Meredith Local Media Group President Paul Karpowicz. “We will continue to look for opportunities to strategically add to our broadcasting portfolio, as well as drive growth through increased advertising and retransmission revenues.”
Fiscal 2015 first half Local Media Group operating profit was $91 million. Excluding special charges, operating profit grew 55 percent to $97 million; EBITDA grew 52 percent to $115 million; revenues rose 45 percent to $281 million – all records; and EBITDA margin was 41 percent.
NATIONAL MEDIA GROUP
Meredith’s National Media Group reaches a multi-channel audience of more than 230 million consumers monthly, including 100 million unduplicated women and 60 percent of American millennial women. Meredith is a leader at creating content across media platforms and life stages in key consumer interest areas such as food, home, parenthood and health. It also features robust brand licensing activities and innovative business-to-business marketing services. Meredith expects to continue to grow its National Media Group organically and through strategic acquisitions.
Fiscal 2015 second quarter National Media Group operating profit was $26 million. Excluding special charges, operating profit grew 7 percent to $30 million. Revenues were $242 million.
Looking more closely at fiscal 2015 second quarter performance compared to the prior-year period, excluding special charges:
- Total advertising revenues grew to $117 million. Digital advertising revenues increased nearly 45 percent to a fiscal second quarter record, and accounted for an all-time high of more than 30 percent of total National Media Group advertising revenues. Growth was driven by strong results at Allrecipes.com, along with the addition of Marthastewart.com and Mywedding.com.
- Circulation revenues were $59 million, compared to $68 million, primarily due to the Ladies’ Home Journal transition, partially offset by the addition of Allrecipes magazine, which increased its rate base to 1.1 million beginning with the February/March 2015 issue, up from 500,000 at launch a year ago.
- Digital consumer marketing activities continued to expand, driving approximately one-third of magazine subscription acquisitions over the last 12 months.
- Brand Licensing revenues grew to a second quarter record, driven by sales of more than 3,000 SKUs of Better Homes and Gardens licensed products at more than 4,000 Walmart stores nationwide and at Walmart.com.
- Operating expenses declined 4 percent due to continued strong expense discipline.
Meredith’s consumer engagement continued to grow in the second quarter of fiscal 2015. According to the most current Magazine Media 360 report, Meredith has two of the three largest brands in the industry: Better Homes and Gardens (No. 2 with a total monthly audience of 53 million) and Allrecipes (No. 3 with a total monthly audience of 52 million).
“We’re pleased to report operating profit growth in the quarter, driven by higher advertising revenues, stronger performance from Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, and disciplined expense control,” said Meredith National Media Group President Tom Harty. “Looking ahead, we are excited about the marketplace response to the addition of the Martha Stewart Living media properties; our agreement to purchase Shape, the leader in the women’s active lifestyle category; and the enhanced digital native and engagement-based advertising capabilities from Selectable Media.”
Fiscal 2015 first half National Media Group operating profit was $55 million. Excluding special charges, operating profit grew 5 percent to $59 million, and operating margin grew to 12 percent. Revenues were $489 million, compared to $517 million in the prior-year period.
OTHER FINANCIAL INFORMATION
Consistent with its Total Shareholder Return (TSR) strategy, Meredith repurchased 362,000 shares of its stock in the second quarter of fiscal 2015, and $98 million remained under the current repurchase authorization. Total debt was $859 million and the weighted average interest rate was 2.4 percent, with $400 million effectively at a fixed rate. Meredith’s debt-to-EBITDA ratio for the trailing 12 months was 2.9 to 1. All metrics are as of December 31, 2014.
Key elements of Meredith’s TSR strategy are (1) An annual dividend of $1.73 per share (yielding approximately 3.5 percent), which reflects a 6 percent increase in the annual dividend over the prior year and a 70 percent increase since Meredith launched its TSR strategy in October 2011; (2) A share repurchase program with $98 million remaining under current authorizations; and (3) Ongoing investments to scale the business and increase shareholder value.
All earnings per share figures in the text of this release are diluted. Both basic and diluted earnings per share can be found in the attached Condensed Consolidated Statements of Earnings. All fiscal 2015 second quarter and first half comparisons are against the comparable prior-year period unless otherwise stated.
Meredith expects full year fiscal 2015 earnings per share before special charges to range from $3.25 to $3.35, an increase from the previous range established on July 31, 2014.
The new and higher range reflects expected accretion of between $0.10 to $0.15 from the addition of the Martha Stewart media properties and the Shape brand to Meredith’s National Media Group; and WALA in Mobile-Pensacola to Meredith’s Local Media Group.
Looking more closely at the third quarter of fiscal 2015 compared to the year-ago period:
- Total Company revenues are expected to be up high-single digits.
- Total Local Media Group revenues are expected to be up 25 to 30 percent.
- Total National Media Group revenues are expected to be up low-single digits.
Meredith expects fiscal 2015 third quarter earnings per share to range from $0.66 to $0.71. While Meredith expects the addition of the Shape brand to be accretive to earnings for full fiscal 2015, Meredith expects it will be $0.04 dilutive to earnings per share in its third fiscal quarter. This is due to the timing of certain expenses occurring prior to the generation of revenue.
A number of uncertainties remain that may affect Meredith’s outlook as stated in this press release for the third quarter and full year fiscal 2015. These and other uncertainties are referenced below under “Safe Harbor” and in certain filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.