A.H. Belo Revenues Dip; Media General Could Divest Newspapers
There is more grim news for the beleaguered newspaper industry. Following a series of revenue declines at other big publishers in the first quarter of the year, A.H. Belo revealed another round of weak results. At an investor conference, Media General hinted that it may divest its newspaper assets.
A.H. Belo, which publishes the Dallas Morning News, saw total revenues fall 7% from $112.7 million in the first quarter of 2011 to $104.8 million in the first quarter of 2012. That was due largely to a 12% drop in advertising revenues, with advertising losses spread across all the major categories.
Display ads sank 18% to $19.4 million, classifieds tumbled 10% to $13.9 million, preprint revenue fell 6% to $18.9 million, and digital ad revenue decreased 11% to $7.8 million. Circulation revenue sank 1% to $34.7 million.
The company also revealed the total size of its workforce decreased 14% from the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012, to approximately 2,000 full-time-equivalent employees.
When it comes to financial woes, A.H. Belo has plenty of company in the newspaper business; some publishers are considering getting out altogether. Last week, Media General CEO Marshall N. Morton confirmed that the company is open to selling some or all of its newspaper businesses. Morton made the comment while describing ways the company could increase its value at a shareholder meeting.
Divesting the newspaper businesses would leave Media General with 18 broadcast TV stations, which have generally performed better than newspapers in recent years. This, in turn, would increase the value of the company to shareholders by boosting profitability per share. However, while Morton said the company has received expressions of interest, so far there are no deals in the works to sell off its newspaper properties.