Belo Corp. has declared a cash dividend of 75 cents a share payable June 5 to stockholders of record as of May 15. Subsequent dividends will be suspended “indefinitely,” the company said.
“In light of current economic conditions, suspending the dividend will allow Belo’s management team to continue to focus on paying down debt and preserving cash while enhancing the company’s financial flexibility,” said Dunia A. Shive, Belo (NYSE: BLC) president and CEO.
Shive made a similar statement days earlier when BLC managed to reduce its obligation on a bank credit facility by $50 million. Belo is financially circling its wagons after posting a loss of $333 million for 2008. Those results included $465 million in write downs; $114 million of it for broadcast licenses. Belo, a pure-play TV group, has 20 stations.
Despite Belo’s efforts to conserve cash and pay down debt, Moody’s has lowered the company’s rating for a second time this year, according to The Wall Street Journal, this time to Ba3, a junk rating. Fitch likewise cut its default rating on Belo further into junk. Shares of the company slid below $1 Feb. 25 and have continued to fall, trading mid-day today at around 50 cents.
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