Meredith Beats Expectations

DES MOINES,IOWA: Meredith Corp. came out ahead of the prognosticators, but its share price nonetheless slipped on news of its fiscal first-quarter results. The company turned in earnings per share of 56 cents, compared to analyst expectations of 50 cents. Shares shot up to $35.90 at opening today, then fell to $34.72 by mid-day. Meredith (NYSE: MDP) shares year-to-date have gained about 13 percent at $34.72.

Meredith’s 12 TV stations and its production studio turned in a $17 million profit on revenues of $76 million for the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2010. The year-ago period yielded $2 million on $60 million. Television spot revenue grew 27 percent, including a record $12 million in net political advertising, and an 8 percent increase in non-political advertising to $58 million. Eight of Meredith’s ten largest non-political advertising categories charted growth, led by automotive, retail and media-related advertisers.

Meredith said its Video Studios revenues also grew on 60 percent clearance of its daily syndie, “Better.” The show is set to launch on KCAL-TV in Los Angeles in November.

Consolidated revenues for the TV and print businesses rose 4 percent to $344 million. Net profit was $25.7 million versus $18.3 million a year ago.

Meredith expects F2Q11 earnings per share to range from 75 to 80 cents. Total ad revenues are expected to rise in the low double-digits. Net political is anticipated to be $15 million to $18 million. Full year earnings per share are expected to be in the $2.50 to $2.75 range.

Meredith finished the quarter with $21.7 million in cash and equivalents, compared to $48.6 million as of June 30. Current portion of long-term debt was $50 million on both dates.
-- Deborah D. McAdams