First Is Last: Meredith, Fiscal 1Q '09 Down

Big political TV advertising dollars could not make up for the bigger downward ad trend for Meredith Corp. in its fiscal 2009 first-quarter results.

The company's broadcasting revenues slipped 6.7% to $70 million against $75 million in the same period a year ago. Operating profit also headed south to $11 million, from $14 million a year ago.

The good news is that political revenues were six times that of the prior period--to $6 million from $1 million the year before.

Meredith didn't get much benefit from the NBC Olympics in Beijing, either. Its sole NBC outlet in Nashville grabbed $1 million in Olympics business.

Like many TV stations groups, Meredith blamed advertising weakness in core television ad categories, such as automotive, professional services, restaurants, retail and furnishings. All affected broadcasting performance in the quarter. Combined advertising revenues in these categories declined nearly 20%.

Non-political advertising during the period was down 15% to $61.6 million.



Overall, the company recorded 8% lower revenues--$370.4 million from $404.0 million. Net earnings fell 45% to $18.6 million from $33.5 million.

Meredith's publishing division was also hit--down 9% in revenues to $300.0 million from $329.5 million. Operating profits were 40% lower to $33.1 million.

Going forward, things won't be much better. The company says fiscal 2009 second-quarter publishing advertising revenues are down in the high teens percentages, compared to 8% growth in the second quarter of fiscal 2008.

Broadcasting non-political advertising dollars are off 20%, compared to 6% growth in the second quarter of fiscal 2008. Meredith expects political advertising to perk up to $15 million--about what was expected.

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