Nexstar Media Tuesday reported revenue rose to a record $309.9 million during the three months ending Dec. 31, 2016, the last quarter before the group formally acquired Media General.
The number is a 22.8% increase over the same period of time in 2015, according to Nexstar. The lift was fueled by $60 million in political revenue, up 661% from 4Q 2015. Retransmission consent revenue rose to $100.3 million, a 22.8% rise year over year, the group said.
“Our strong fourth quarter and full-year operating results mark Nexstar’s fifth consecutive year of record financial results based on the ongoing success of our strategies to leverage our local market content and community involvement, execute and integrate accretive acquisitions, maintain cost controls and optimize the balance sheet and capital structure,” CEO Perry Sook said in a statement. “The 22.8% rise in fourth quarter net revenue resulted in BCF, Adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow growth of 39.0%, 44.9% and 23.9%, respectively, and reflect margin growth related to the significant operating leverage in our model, the ongoing benefits of our management disciplines and our strategic initiatives to maximize the political advertising opportunity. For the full year, Nexstar’s legacy platform generated approximately $7.98 of free cash flow per share, or 18.4% growth over 2015 levels, which has funded capital returns to shareholders through quarterly cash dividends and 2015 share repurchases.”
Sook said that Nexstar’s $4.6 billion acquisition of Media General in January is expected to more than double the company’s revenue and adjusted EBITDA. Nexstar expects to generate average annual free cash flow in the 2017/2018 cycle of approximately $565 million, or approximately $12.00 per share, per year based upon approximately 47 million shares outstanding and current estimates of approximately $81 million of year one synergies and a substantial rise in 2018 cash taxes, he said.