Meredith Corp Digital Advertising, Licensing Grows Despite Revenue Dip

Meredith Corporation’s fiscal 2021 first-quarter earnings report shows a drop in total revenue, but gains in digital advertising and licensing.

The company, which is the country’s largest magazine publisher, reported earnings of $42 million. Total revenue was $694 million, down 4% year-over-year.

"We are off to an encouraging start to fiscal 2021, with 15% growth in national digital advertising to a record high, and a 43% increase in local political spot advertising from the prior cycle two years ago," stated Meredith president and CEO, Tom Harty. 

Advertising-related revenues were at $228 million, down 16%.

The National Media Group is Meredith's magazine arm, which includes publications like People, Better Homes & Gardens, InStyle, Allrecipes, Real Simple, Shape, Southern Living and Martha Stewart Living, among others.

Despite the record digital advertising growth in the National Media Group, revenues were $468 million, down 12% compared to the same fiscal quarter 2020. (However, excluding portfolio changes, the National Media Group revenues were down 8%).



Adjusted EBITDA grew 17% to $143 million.

"While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact total Company revenues, sequentially our year-over-year performance has continued to recover,” Harty added. “Our efforts to enhance financial flexibility and control costs have produced tangible results as demonstrated by our growth in operating profit and free cash flow.”

In an earnings call on Wednesday morning, Harty said it was "the best first-quarter free cash flow performance in our history," and that the company finished the quarter "with more than $200 million of cash in the bank."

Newsstand revenues fell by $8 million, due to COVID-related declines, according to the company.

Meredith experienced a 16% increase in total sessions for its National Media Group sites from the prior-year period.

This was driven, in part, by strong performance from the company's entertainment and food sites, particularly and 

Meredith also had 21% growth in licensing and other consumer-driven revenues, compared to Q1 2020, thanks to Apple News+, digital couponing, content and affiliate commerce.

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