Press Release: Meredith Reports Record Fiscal 2017 2nd Quarter And First Half Results
DES MOINES, Iowa, Jan. 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Meredith Corporation (NYSE:MDP; meredith.com) — the leading media and marketing company with local television brands in large, fast-growing markets and national brands serving more than 100 million American women — today reported record fiscal 2017 second quarter earnings of $1.58 per share, compared to $0.72 in the prior-year period. Total Company revenues increased 9 percent to $443 million, and total advertising revenues increased 11 percent to $267 million, both representing all-time quarterly highs.
Excluding special items in both periods, fiscal 2017 second quarter earnings per share grew 63 percent to a record $1.30 from $0.80 in the prior-year period. (See Other Financial Information later in this release for a description of fiscal 2017 second quarter special items and Tables 1-6 for supplemental disclosures regarding non-GAAP financial measures.)
“We continued our record-setting performance in the second quarter and first half of fiscal 2017, driven by record political advertising revenues at our television stations and double-digit growth in digital ad revenues in both the national and local businesses,” said Meredith Chairman and CEO Stephen M. Lacy. “We continue to expect to deliver record full fiscal year 2017 revenue and earnings performance, driven by aggressive execution of our strategic growth initiatives.”
Looking at Meredith’s performance in the second quarter of fiscal 2017 compared to the prior year:
- Local Media Group revenues increased 31 percent to $183 million, operating profit grew 90 percent to $77 million, and EBITDA increased over 70 percent to $86 million, all quarterly record highs. Growth was led by a 27 percent increase in total advertising revenues, including $40 million of political advertising revenues. Retransmission revenues also grew strongly.
- Total Company digital advertising revenues grew 16 percent to a quarterly record high. Traffic across Meredith’s digital and mobile sites grew to an average of nearly 90 million unique visitors per month, and video views jumped 13 percent.
- National Media Group operating profit grew and profit margin expanded, driven by strong growth in digital advertising revenues. Digital advertising revenues grew 16 percent and represented nearly 40 percent of total National Media Group advertising. Total advertising revenues were off 2 percent, but even on a comparable basis.
- Consumer engagement in key target demographics expanded across Meredith’s media platforms. Meredith’s National Media brands grew their reach to more than 100 million unduplicated American women, including nearly 75 percent of U.S. Millennial women. Meredith magazine readership currently stands at an impressive 125 million, and Meredith’s television stations delivered a strong November rating book.
Fiscal 2017 first half earnings per share were a record $2.33, compared to $0.96 in the prior-year period. Excluding special items, fiscal 2017 first half earnings per share grew 55 percent to a record $2.05, up from $1.32 in the prior-year period. Total company revenues increased 7 percent to $843 million, and total advertising revenues grew 7 percent to $493 million, both records.
“Our results in calendar 2016 reflect the strength of our diversified media business,” said Meredith President and COO Tom Harty. “In our Local Media Group, we generated a record $67 million of political ad revenues and increased net retransmission contribution. In our National Media Group, we delivered growth in ad revenues as double-digit gains in digital advertising outpaced slight declines in magazine advertising. Importantly, we renewed our industry leading Better Homes & Gardens licensing program at Walmart stores nationwide.”
OPERATING GROUP DETAIL
LOCAL MEDIA GROUP
Meredith’s Local Media Group includes 17 owned or operated television stations reaching 11 percent of households. Meredith’s portfolio is concentrated in large, fast-growing markets, including seven stations in the nation’s Top 25 markets and 13 in the Top 50. Meredith’s stations produce 700 hours of local news and entertainment content each week. Meredith expects to continue to grow its Local Media Group organically and through strategic acquisitions.
Fiscal 2017 second quarter Local Media Group operating profit grew 90 percent to $77 million, up from $40 million in the prior-year period. EBITDA grew 71 percent to $86 million. Profit margin was 42 percent and EBITDA margin was 47 percent. Revenues increased 31 percent to $183 million.
Looking more closely at fiscal 2017 second quarter performance:
- Total advertising revenues increased 27 percent, driven by strong political and digital advertising performance. Highlights included:
- Political advertising revenues were $40 million, up 37 percent from the last political cycle in the second quarter of fiscal 2015. Political spending was particularly robust in the Las Vegas, St. Louis, Phoenix and Kansas City markets, primarily due to very competitive “down-ballot” races.
- Non-political advertising revenues were $92 million, reflecting political crowd-out, especially in the above-mentioned markets. Excluding those markets, non-political advertising revenues were down low-single digits.
- Digital advertising revenues grew 18 percent compared to the prior-year period, as innovative growth strategies continue to drive higher digital sales across Meredith’s station group.
- Other revenues and operating expenses increased compared to the prior-year period, due primarily to growth in retransmission revenues from cable and satellite television operators, partially offset by higher programming fees paid to affiliated networks.
Meredith delivered strong performance in the November 2016 rating book. Nine Meredith stations ranked number one or two in late news, while seven stations ranked number one or two in morning news.
To further strengthen its competitive position, in fiscal 2017 Meredith has launched additional newscasts in the Atlanta, Phoenix, Portland, Nashville, Greenville and Flint/Saginaw markets. These initiatives increased Meredith’s total local news and entertainment programming hours to 700 per week. Additionally, Meredith continues to implement a local audience development initiative designed to increase Millennial audience engagement with its stations on social and digital platforms.
Fiscal 2017 first half Local Media Group operating profit grew 83 percent to $127 million, up from $70 million in the prior-year period. EBITDA grew 63 percent to $145 million. Profit margin was 38 percent and EBITDA margin was 43 percent. Revenues increased 26 percent to $336 million, including $56 million of political advertising. All represent fiscal first-half records.
NATIONAL MEDIA GROUP
Meredith’s National Media Group reaches more than 100 million unduplicated American women, including nearly 75 percent of U.S. Millennial women. Meredith is a leader in creating content across media platforms and life stages in key consumer interest areas such as food, home, parenting and lifestyle. It also features robust brand licensing activities and innovative business-to-business marketing solutions provided by Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. Meredith expects to continue to grow its National Media Group organically and through strategic acquisitions.
Fiscal 2017 second quarter National Media Group operating profit was $47 million, or $34 million excluding special items. That compares to $34 million in the prior-year period. Revenues were $259 million, compared to $267 million in the prior-year period. (See Other Financial Information later in this release for a description of fiscal 2017 second quarter special items and Tables 1-6 for supplemental disclosures regarding non-GAAP financial measures.)
Looking more closely at National Media Group fiscal 2017 second quarter performance compared to the prior-year period:
- Total advertising revenues declined slightly to $135 million, but were even on a comparable basis, which excludes MORE magazine.
- Digital advertising revenue rose 16 percent, and accounted for 38 percent of total National Media Group advertising revenues. Growth was led by the Allrecipes, Parents and Shape brands.
- Meredith’s share of total magazine advertising revenues increased to 13.8 percent from 12.5 percent, according to the most recent data from Publishers Information Bureau. The Family Circle, Allrecipes and EatingWell brands posted strong performance. The beauty, pets and direct response advertising categories were growth leaders.
- Circulation revenues increased slightly to $67 million, driven by an increase in newsstand revenues that was led by a strong debut of The Magnolia Journal, Meredith’s quarterly lifestyle magazine based on Joanna and Chip Gaines’ popular Magnolia brand.
- Expenses declined 9 percent, and were down 3 percent excluding special items, compared to the prior-year period, as Meredith continued to pursue operational efficiencies.
Meredith’s National Media Group continues to extend its reach to American consumers and further diversify its revenue streams in fiscal 2017. For example:
- Meredith renewed its licensing program with Walmart. This program features more than 3,000 SKUs of Better Homes & Gardens branded products at 5,000 Walmart stores and on Walmart.com. In addition, Meredith launched several new brand licensing programs, including an EatingWell line of frozen foods; SHAPE fitness apparel; and Allrecipes cooking utensils.
- Meredith grew the reach and impact of its Allrecipes brand, the world’s largest in food media. Traffic increased 13 percent to an average of more than 55 million monthly unique visitors. Meredith introduced a new national broadcast television series based on the Allrecipes brand, and increased the ratebase of Allrecipes magazine to 1.35 million, up from 500,000 when it launched three years ago.
Fiscal 2017 first half National Media Group operating profit was $71 million, or $58 million excluding special items. Fiscal 2017 first half revenues were $507 million compared to $525 million in the prior-year period.
OTHER FINANCIAL INFORMATION
Cash flow from operations grew to $117 million in the first six months of fiscal 2017 from $48 million in the prior-year period. Total debt was $674 million and the weighted average interest rate was 2.8 percent, with $400 million effectively fixed at low rates. Meredith’s debt-to-EBITDA ratio for the trailing 12 months was 1.9 to 1 (as defined in Meredith’s credit agreements). All metrics are as of December 31, 2016.
Meredith continues to focus on its successful Total Shareholder Return strategy. Key elements include:
- An annualized dividend of $1.98 per share that’s yielding approximately 3.5 percent based on yesterday’s closing price. Meredith has paid dividends for 69 consecutive years and increased them for 23 years straight.
- An ongoing share repurchase program with $74 million remaining under current authorizations.
- Strategic investments to scale the business and increase shareholder value.
Fiscal 2017 second quarter special items included a reduction in a previously accrued contingent consideration payable and the resolution of certain federal and state tax matters. These benefits were partially offset by restructuring and other charges. (See Tables 1-6 for supplemental disclosures regarding non-GAAP financial measures.)
All earnings-per-share figures in the text of this release are diluted. Both basic and diluted earnings per share can be found in the attached Condensed Consolidated Statements of Earnings. All fiscal 2017 second quarter comparisons are against the comparable prior-year period unless otherwise stated.
Including special items recorded in fiscal 2017, Meredith expects fiscal 2017 full-year earnings per share to range from $3.78 to $4.08.
Excluding special items recorded in fiscal 2017, Meredith continues to expect fiscal 2017 full-year earnings per share to range from $3.50 to $3.80, as originally communicated on July 28, 2016.
Meredith expects fiscal 2017 third quarter earnings per share to range from $0.75 to $0.80, with total revenues for each of its Local and National Media Groups flat to down slightly.
CONFERENCE CALL WEBCAST
Meredith will host a conference call on January 25, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. EST to discuss fiscal 2017 second quarter results. A live webcast will be accessible to the public on the Company’s website, meredith.com, and a replay will be available for two weeks. A transcript will be available within 48 hours of the call at meredith.com.
RATIONALE FOR USE AND ACCESS TO NON-GAAP RESULTS
Management uses and presents GAAP and non-GAAP results to evaluate and communicate its performance. Non-GAAP measures should not be construed as alternatives to GAAP measures. EBITDA, adjusted EBITDA, EBITDA margin and adjusted EBITDA margin are common supplemental measures of performance used by investors and financial analysts. Management believes that EBITDA provides an additional analytical tool to clarify the Company’s results from core operations and delineate underlying trends. Management does not use EBITDA as a measure of liquidity or funds available for management’s discretionary use because it includes certain contractual and non-discretionary expenditures. Adjusted EBITDA is defined as EBITDA before special items.
Results excluding special items are supplemental non-GAAP financial measures. While these adjusted results are not a substitute for reported results under GAAP, management believes this information is useful as an aid in further understanding Meredith’s current performance, performance trends and financial condition. Reconciliations of non-GAAP to GAAP measures are attached to this press release and available at meredith.com.
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This release contains certain forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties. These statements are based on management’s current knowledge and estimates of factors affecting the Company and its operations. Statements in this release that are forward-looking include, but are not limited to, the Company’s revenue and earnings-per-share outlook for third quarter and full-year fiscal 2017.
Actual results may differ materially from those currently anticipated. Factors that could adversely affect future results include, but are not limited to, downturns in national and/or local economies; a softening of the domestic advertising market; world, national or local events that could disrupt broadcast television; increased consolidation among major advertisers or other events depressing the level of advertising spending; the unexpected loss or insolvency of one or more major clients or vendors; the integration of acquired businesses; changes in consumer reading, purchasing and/or television viewing patterns; increases in paper, postage, printing, syndicated programming or other costs; changes in television network affiliation agreements; technological developments affecting products or methods of distribution; changes in government regulations affecting the Company’s industries; increases in interest rates; and the consequences of acquisitions and/or dispositions. The Company undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
ABOUT MEREDITH CORPORATION
Meredith Corporation (NYSE: MDP; meredith.com) has been committed to service journalism for 115 years. Today, Meredith uses multiple distribution platforms — including broadcast television, print, digital, mobile and video — to provide consumers with content they desire and to deliver the messages of its advertising and marketing partners.
Meredith’s Local Media Group includes 17 owned or operated television stations reaching 11 percent of U.S. households. Meredith’s portfolio is concentrated in large, fast-growing markets, with seven stations in the nation’s Top 25 — including Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis and Portland — and 13 in Top 50 markets. Meredith’s stations produce 700 hours of local news and entertainment content each week, and operate leading local digital destinations.
Meredith’s National Media Group reaches more than 100 million unduplicated women every month, including nearly 75 percent of U.S. Millennial women. Meredith is the leader in creating and distributing content across platforms in key consumer interest areas such as food, home, parenting and lifestyle through well-known brands such as Better Homes & Gardens, Allrecipes, Parents and Shape. Meredith also features robust brand licensing activities, including more than 3,000 SKUs of branded products at 5,000 Walmart stores across the U.S. and at walmart.com. Meredith Xcelerated Marketing is an award-winning, strategic and creative agency that provides fully integrated marketing solutions for many of the world’s top brands, including The Kraft Heinz Co., Bank of America, WebMD, Volkswagen and NBCUniversal.
Meredith’s balanced portfolio consistently generates substantial free-cash flow, and the Company is committed to growing Total Shareholder Return through dividend payments, share repurchases and strategic business investments. Meredith’s current annualized dividend of $1.98 per share yields approximately 3.5 percent. Meredith has paid a dividend for 69 straight years and increased it for 23 consecutive years.