October 26, 2017 Last Updated 7:50 am

Mixed results for Meredith as company must compare against last year’s political ad revenue

DES MOINES, Iowa — October 26, 2017  — Meredith Corporation — the leading media and marketing company with local television brands in large, fast-growing markets and national brands serving more than 110 million unduplicated American women every month — reported today fiscal 2018 first quarter results:

  • Earnings per share were $0.73, including a gain of $0.04 per share related to the sale of a majority stake in the Family Circle Cup Tennis Center.
  • Excluding this special item, earnings per share were $0.69. This compares to earnings per share of $0.75 in the prior-year period. Meredith recorded $0.20 per share less of political advertising revenues in the first quarter of fiscal 2018 than in the prior-year period, as expected in a non-political year.
  • Total revenues were $393 million, compared to $400 million in the prior-year period, reflecting the absence of $15 million of political advertising revenue.
 “We continued to aggressively execute our multi-faceted growth strategies, including growth in popular consumer brands such as Better Homes & Gardens and Magnolia Journal; expansion of our highly profitable digital activities across the Company; and record retransmission revenues and related contribution in our television business, resulting in record performance for a non-political first quarter,” said Meredith Chairman and CEO Stephen M. Lacy.

Looking more closely at Meredith’s fiscal 2018 first quarter compared to the prior-year period:

  • Local Media Group revenues were $154 million, operating profit was $41 million and EBITDA was $49 million, all record highs for a non-political first quarter. Non-political advertising revenues increased 4 percent to $88 million, led by growth in the Atlanta, Phoenix and St. Louis markets. Digital advertising revenues grew 14 percent. Other revenues increased 24 percent, primarily due to growth in retransmission-related revenues.
  • National Media Group revenues were $239 million. Operating profit grew 17 percent to $28 million. Excluding the special item in the first quarter of fiscal 2018, operating profit grew 4 percent to $25 million, driven primarily by lower operating expenses in Meredith’s magazine business. Circulation revenues grew slightly compared to the prior-year period.
  • Total Company digital advertising revenues were a fiscal first quarter record. Traffic across Meredith’s digital properties increased to 83 million average monthly unique visitors. National Media Group digital advertising revenues accounted for 30 percent of National Media Group advertising revenues.

“We continued to take steps to strengthen our brands, both at the Local and National levels, and these initiatives are yielding increasing consumer engagement,” said Meredith President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Harty. “We also executed on our ongoing program of disciplined expense management, which helped generate strong operating profit growth in our National Media Group.”

OPERATING GROUP DETAIL

LOCAL MEDIA GROUP

Meredith’s Local Media Group includes 17 television stations reaching 11 percent of households. Meredith’s portfolio is concentrated in large, fast-growing markets, including seven stations in the nation’s Top 25 markets and 13 in the Top 50. Meredith’s stations produce 700 hours of highly profitable local news and entertainment content each week. Meredith expects to continue to grow its Local Media Group organically and through strategic acquisitions.

Fiscal 2018 first quarter Local Media Group operating profit was $41 million and EBITDA was $49 million. Revenues were $154 million. (See Tables 1-4 for supplemental disclosures regarding non-GAAP financial measures.)

Looking more closely at fiscal 2018 first quarter performance compared to the prior-year period:

  • Non-political advertising revenues grew 4 percent to $88 million, led by growth in the Atlanta, Phoenix and St. Louis markets.
  • Digital advertising revenues grew 14 percent. Meredith has recently relaunched all of the mobile news, weather and traffic apps across its station group, yielding record app opens and unique page views.
  • As expected in a non-political year, political advertising revenues were $1 million, compared to $16 million in the prior-year period.
  • Other revenues and operating expenses increased, primarily due to growth in retransmission revenues from cable and satellite television operators, partially offset by higher programming fees paid to affiliated networks.

Meredith continued to pursue initiatives in its Local Media Group to strengthen its brands and position in each of the communities in which it operates. These include:

  • A deeper commitment to long-form service journalism, including more investigative news, reflecting Meredith’s commitment to its local markets.
  • The launch of drone news gathering in each of its markets, with 36 operators who are fully trained and certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing for innovations in local news coverage.

These initiatives helped Meredith deliver strong performance during the July rating period. Meredith stations in 9 of its 12 markets ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in morning or late news, and Meredith stations in 7 of its markets were No. 1 or No. 2 from sign-on to sign-off.

NATIONAL MEDIA GROUP

Meredith’s National Media Group reaches more than 110 million unduplicated American women every month, including more than 70 percent of U.S. Millennial women. Meredith is a leader in creating content across media platforms and life stages in key consumer interest areas such as food, home, parenting and lifestyle. It also features robust brand licensing activities and innovative business-to-business marketing solutions provided by Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. Meredith expects to continue to grow its National Media Group organically and through strategic acquisitions.

Fiscal first quarter 2018 National Media Group operating profit grew 17 percent to $28 million, compared to $24 million in the prior-year period. Excluding the special item, operating profit increased 4 percent to $25 million. Revenues were $239 million. (See Tables 1-4 for supplemental disclosures regarding non-GAAP financial measures.)

Looking more closely at fiscal first quarter 2018 performance compared to the prior-year period:

  • Total advertising revenues were $120 million. Meredith’s share of total magazine industry advertising revenues increased to an all-time high of 13.4 percent, compared to 12 percent in the prior-year period, driven by strong performance by Better Homes & Gardens and Martha Stewart Living. The beauty, food and travel categories performed particularly well.
  • Circulation revenues grew slightly due to stronger subscription revenues.
  • Expenses declined 6 percent, or 4 percent excluding the special item, as Meredith delivered operational efficiencies.

Meredith continued to pursue initiatives in its National Media Group to strengthen its brands and connection with its consumers. These include:

  • Continued growth of The Magnolia Journal, a quarterly lifestyle magazine based on Joanna and Chip Gaines’highly successful Magnolia brand. It has become one of the industry’s most successful debuts since launching one year ago. The title is now selling more than 1 million copies each issue through paid subscriptions and at newsstand.
  • Ongoing innovation of Allrecipes, the world’s most popular food media brand. Allrecipes, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, launched voice-activated compatibility with Amazon Alexa, enabling millions of home cooks to seamlessly search and discover recipes and their favorite store brands.
  • Meredith’s total audience across all media platforms was a robust 215 million, according to the most recent data from the MPA’s 360° Brand Audience Report.

OTHER FINANCIAL INFORMATION

Cash flow from operations increased 45 percent to $51 million. Total debt was $705 million and the weighted average interest rate was 2.9 percent, with $350 million effectively fixed at low rates. Meredith’s debt-to-EBITDA ratio for the trailing 12 months was 2.0 to 1 (as defined in Meredith’s credit agreements). All metrics are as of September 30, 2017.

Meredith continues to focus on its successful Total Shareholder Return strategy. Key elements include:

  • Ongoing dividend increases – Meredith raised its regular stock dividend by 5.1 percent to $2.08 on an annualized basis in January 2017. This marked the 24th straight year of dividend increases for Meredith, which has paid an annual dividend for 70 consecutive years.
  • Strategic investments to scale the business and increase shareholder value – Meredith has invested approximately $1 billion to acquire leading broadcast, digital and print properties in the last several years.
  • Share repurchases – Meredith’s ongoing share repurchase program has $62 million remaining under current authorizations as of September 30, 2017.

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 2018 first quarter comparisons are against the comparable prior-year period unless otherwise stated.

OUTLOOK

Meredith expects full year fiscal 2018 earnings per share on a GAAP basis to range from $3.24 to $3.54. Excluding special items, Meredith continues to expect full year fiscal 2018 earnings per share to range from $3.20 to $3.50. During fiscal 2018, Meredith is cycling against a record $0.85 per share, or $63 million, of political advertising revenues recorded by its Local Media Group in fiscal 2017.

Meredith expects fiscal 2018 second quarter earnings per share to range from $0.87 to $0.92. This compares to earnings per share of $1.58, or $1.30 excluding special items, recorded in the prior-year period. Meredith will be cycling against $0.54 per share of political advertising revenues recorded in the prior-year period.

Looking more closely at the second quarter of fiscal 2018 compared to the prior-year period when Meredith generated approximately $40 million of political advertising revenue, Meredith expects:

  • Local Media Group total non-political revenues to be up high-teens.
  • National Media Group revenues to be down mid-single digits.
  • Total Company non-political revenues to be up low- to mid-single digits.

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