Meredith Reports Strong Advertising Revenues in 4th Quarter; Trends Remain Strong
National Media Group Advertising Revenues Exceeded Expectations in 4th Quarter; Trends Remain Strong
Meredith Corporation the leading media and marketing company with national brands serving 115 million unduplicated American women, including nearly 90 percent of U.S. millennial women; 150 million digital monthly unique visitors; a paid subscription base of 42 million; and 30 million viewers via 17 local television stations in fast-growing markets – today reported fiscal 2019 fourth quarter and full year results.
“Our National Media Group delivered improved comparable advertising performance in every quarter of fiscal 2019, and our Local Media Group achieved another year of record performance,” said Meredith Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Harty. “Of particular note, our television station group recorded an all-time high of $103 million of political advertising revenues, along with continued double-digit growth in retransmission revenue.
“Additionally, we made significant progress in fiscal 2019 executing on our plan to strategically integrate the assets acquired from Time Inc. and assemble the best portfolio of national media brands in the industry,” Harty continued. “We focused on implementing Meredith’s proven strategies and disciplined approach across our portfolio, which drove growth in total comparable National Media Group advertising revenues in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 including double-digit growth in digital advertising revenues and growth in print advertising revenues at the legacy Time Inc. titles. While it has taken longer than we initially expected to elevate the print and digital performance of the Time Inc. assets, we remain confident in the long-term vision and potential of the National Media Group brand portfolio.
“Finally, we continued Meredith’s long-term commitment to returning cash to shareholders by increasing our dividend by 5.5 percent. This represents a current dividend yield of 5.2 percent, which is more than double the average of the S&P 500. We accomplished this while still strengthening our balance sheet by paying down $825 million of debt,” Harty concluded.
Looking more closely at fiscal 2019 full-year results compared to the prior year:
- Total Company revenues from continuing operations were up more than 40 percent to a record $3.2 billion.
- Total Company advertising related and consumer related revenues recorded double-digit growth.
- Earnings from continuing operations, which includes special items in both periods, were $129 million, compared to $114 million. Meredith recorded $94 million of net after-tax special items in fiscal 2019, primarily related to restructuring and integration costs related to the Time Inc. acquisition, and a non-cash impairment charge related to certain trademarks. Earnings per share from continuing operations were $1.12 compared to $1.79.
- Earnings from continuing operations before special items increased 51 percent to $223 million, compared to $148 million, and increased on a per share basis to $3.19 from $2.54. (See Tables 1-3 for supplemental disclosures regarding non-GAAP financial measures.)
- Adjusted EBITDA was $706 million compared to $423 million. Adjusted earnings per share increased to $7.24 from $4.67.
Looking more closely at fiscal 2019 fourth quarter results compared to the prior-year period:
- Total Company revenues from continuing operations were $786 million, compared to $799 million.
- Loss from continuing operations was $4 million, or $0.51 per share, including $62 million of net after-tax special items, primarily related to restructuring and integration costs, and a non-cash impairment charge related to certain trademarks. This compares to fiscal 2018 fourth quarter earnings from continuing operations of $17 million, or a loss of $0.06 per share, which included $14 million of net after-tax special items.
- Excluding special items in both periods, earnings from continuing operations were $58 million compared to $31 million, and increased on a per share basis to $0.85 from $0.25.
- Adjusted EBITDA grew 6 percent to $169 million compared to $160 million. Adjusted earnings per share increased to $1.79 from $1.31.
Looking ahead to fiscal 2020:
- Meredith expects to deliver an additional $135 million in cost synergies, which would bring the cumulative total to $565 million by the end of fiscal 2020.
- In its Local Media Group, Meredith will be cycling against a record $103 million of political advertising revenues generated in fiscal 2019, partially offset by stronger results from retransmission consent fees.
- In its National Media Group, Meredith expects:
- Print advertising revenue to return to its historical performance levels, which equates to mid-single digit declines.
- Digital advertising revenue to increase in the mid-single digits.
- Strategic investments in its growing digital advertising and consumer related activities to drive continued revenue and profit growth over the long-term.
- Higher production and distribution expenses, including postal rates.
- Lower contribution from consumer related revenues due primarily to the number of low-margin magazine subscriptions inside the legacy Time Inc. brands. Meredith is in the process of transitioning these to more profitable sources, which will take time as the opportunity for margin improvement happens when subscriptions renew.
“Without a doubt, the Time Inc. acquisition has dramatically improved our competitive position in the marketplace, lifting Meredith from the #4 player to #1,” said Harty. “That said, we begin fiscal 2020 at a lower profit point than originally expected. In addition, we are planning strategic investments to further strengthen our performance and maximize shareholder value over time. Both of these factors contribute to a reset of our financial expectations in the outlook we’re providing.”