Nexstar Takes $48 Million Charge

Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. saw net revenues in the third quarter rise 9 percent over last year’s Q3 (to $70.3 million), thanks to political advertising. But the company also took a $48.5 million charge related to the loss in value of its broadcast licenses, resulting in a net loss of $45.3 million ($1.59 per share). That’s compared to a net loss in Q3 2007 of $6.8 million (24 cents per share).

Still, Nexstar Chairman, President and CEO Perry Sook said the company’s economic fundamentals are strong.

"Nexstar's third quarter net revenue growth of 9.0 percent demonstrates that we continue to outpace the industry,” he said in a statement. “Revenue growth was driven by strong year-over-year increases in political, retransmission consent and eMedia revenues, which offset the softness of traditional television advertising spending in our markets.”

Broadcast cash flow rose to $27.3 million in the third quarter (compared with $22.8 million in Q3 2007), and EBITDA rose to $23.1 million from $19.7 million in the third quarter of 2007—all despite disruption from Hurricane Ike.

The $78.8 million in revenue for the quarter included $7.8 million of political ad revenue. Retransmission consent fees popped 37.8 percent from a year ago to $6.2 million, and eMedia revenue shot up 62.6 percent to $2.7 million.

The company has so far spent $13.5 million this year on DTV upgrades, but expects most of those costs to be completed by the end of this year.

"Given the current environment, we are focused on aggressively controlling our costs, while continuing to grow our eMedia platform, complete our digital build out and reduce our outstanding debt,” Sook said.

"As our recently announced acquisition of KWBF-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas indicates, we are prepared to selectively grow the Company by adding to our station portfolio. This opportunistic and strategic transaction is both accretive to our shareholders and helps de-lever our company."

The company's total net debt has dropped a bit, to $654.6 million (compared to $665.0 million at the start of the year.) Total interest expense in the quarter was $11.6 million, down from $13.8 million in the same period in 2007.

For the fourth quarter, Nexstar forecast revenues of $78 million to $80 million, an improvement over Q4 2007 of 9.0 to 11.7 percent.

Nexstar’s stock was trading at about $1.60 a share Monday morning, down from $3.60 before the financial crisis began in September, and down from nearly $15 in the summer of 2007.