DALLAS: Belo is on track to log $55 million in political revenues for the year, the station group’s chief said at today’s UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference.
“Our strong financial performance has continued in the fourth quarter of 2010 on the strength of more than $35 million in political revenue. We currently expect political revenue to finish above $55 million for the full year. Based on current pacing trends, we expect total spot revenue to increase about 21 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2009, which is up from our previous guidance,” Belo chief Dunia A. Shive said. “For the full year, we expect total spot revenue to be up about 18 percent. Also for full year, we currently expect total spot revenue excluding political to be up more than 9 percent.”
Shive confirmed previous guidance regarding 4Q10 operating costs, expected to rise 12 to 13 percent. Excluding special items, the increase is expected to be less than 5 percent. For the full year, combined station and corporate operating costs are expected to be up around 6 percent compared to 2009.
“We currently expect to reduce debt by another $40 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, which would result in full-year debt reduction of approximately $120 million,” she said.
Looking at 2011, Shive said, “We currently expect to see continued moderate recovery in advertising as long as the economy does not experience any unexpected setback. We expect spot revenue excluding political to grow in 2011, but at a more moderate rate than in 2010.
“We expect combined station and corporate operating costs to grow at a low-to-mid single digit rate in 2011. There will be fluctuations in our expense variance quarter-to-quarter due to Nextel credits in the first half of 2010 and syndicated programming expense savings related to the Oprah show in the fall of 2011.
“Capital expenditures in 2011 are expected to be $15 million to $16 million. Interest expense is expected to be around $72 million 2011. The company’s effective tax rate for 2011 is expected to be around 41 percent, a little higher than normal because of the non-cash charge related to the split of the company’s pension plan, which was announced in October. Belo’s pension contributions for full year 2011 are currently expected to be around $16 million.”
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