Q2 Revenue Drops 4.7% at Belo

TV-station owner cites weak advertising environment, guarded about Q3, full year.

Belo reported a 4.7% decrease in total revenue for the second quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. Total spot revenue, including political, was down 6.4%.

The company cited a weak advertising environment, particularly the automotive segment.

Earnings per share from continuing operations were $0.26 in the quarter compared with $0.23 in the second quarter of 2007.

"Belo's second-quarter results were highlighted by excellent expense management as soft advertising conditions reflected a continuing weak economic environment,” president and CEO Dunia A. Shive said. “Combined local and national spot revenue declines in the second quarter improved marginally when compared with the first quarter of this year. We cannot predict the duration of the current economic downturn and are continuing to focus on cost reductions while considering the overall quality and competitive positions of our operating companies."

Total station expenses decreased 7.4% for the quarter thanks in part to a 3% drop in full-time headcount compared with the end of 2007.

Belo’s newspaper business and related assets were spun off in February.

The company pulled in $7.6 million in retransmission-consent revenue for the quarter, a 36% bump from last year, and it expects $30 million in retrans revenue for the full year.

Shive was guardedly bullish on the third quarter’s prospects. “Current economic conditions make it extremely difficult to provide specific guidance for the third quarter or the balance of the year at this time,” she said. “Third-quarter total-revenue comparisons should improve from second-quarter year-over-year comparisons due to political revenues and Olympic revenues in August at our four NBC-affiliated stations.”

Belo owns 20 stations.