Nexstar Broadcasting reported fourth quarter revenue of $138.1 million, up 18.9% from the same quarter in the previous year. Local revenue grew 42.7% and national revenue elevated 59.5% for a 47.4% core revenue increase.
Political revenue was down nearly 95% in the quarter while digital media was up 24.4% and retransmission fees 67.1%.
“Fourth quarter results benefited from accretive station acquisitions completed in 2013, our revenue diversification initiatives, and ongoing focus on building new local direct advertising,” said Perry Sook, chairman, president and CEO of Nexstar.
Nexstar has agreed to deals as recently as November (Grant Company) and December (six stations from Gray and Excalibur). Since July 2012, Nexstar has doubled the portfolio of stations it owns or provides services to, with it and closely aligned Mission Broadcasting acquiring or agreeing to acquire 55 stations for approximately $862 million. “All of these transactions are accretive to free cash flow, strategically diversify our and Mission’s revenue and operating base and create additional duopolies or virtual duopolies,” Sook said.
Sook noted that the broadcaster is well positioned for future revenue gains.
“Our near- and long-term path to growth and the enhancement of shareholder value remains on plan and 2014 will see another period of record financial results as Nexstar will benefit from its expanded scale, new operating efficiencies and synergies related to recent and soon-to-be-completed acquisitions, the renewal in the 2013 fourth quarter of a significant number of retransmission consent agreements, an expansion of our digital media initiatives and the return of the political cycle and highly rated special event programming such as the winter Olympics,” he said.
The consolidated total debt of Nexstar, its wholly owned subsidiaries, and Mission was $1.07 billion at the close of 2013, while senior unsecured debt was $545.4 million.
Marci Ryvicker, senior analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, applauded Nexstar’s results in a report: “Nice Q4 results, although we think the market will be more interested to hear what NXST says about Q1 as well as to what is going on in D.C. with regards to joint sales agreements.”