Univision Profits Up in Third Quarter

Updated: Revenue rises from World Cup 2010 levels
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Updated 1:38 p.m. ET

Univision said its third quarter profits rose despite coming off a World Cup year.

Univision's net income jumped to $290 million from $44.1 million a year ago because of a $239 million income tax benefit. Income from continuing operation before income tax s was $51 million, up from $45 million a year ago.

Net revenue rose 1.7% to $585 million. A year ago, Univision broadcast the World Cup, and generated $25.6 million in net revenue during the quarter. Spanish-language rights to the World Cup will be moving to rival Telemundo starting in 2015.

"Univision's solid third quarter results reflect the continuing strength of our multi-platform properties, including our flagship television network, which beat ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox to rank #1 in primetime among adults 18-34 for the entire third quarter," Randy Falco, Univision president and CEO said in a statement.

"In the nine months since our landmark agreement with Televisa, Univision has positioned itself to harness the full power of our expanded content, capabilities and resources to diversify revenue streams," Falco said. "In addition, we have been managing expenses in a challenging macroeconomic environment and capitalizing on the groundswell of advertiser demand following the 2010 Census."

"As we move into the fourth quarter and 2012, we are focused on advancing our momentum with retransmission consent negotiations and the expansion of our multi-platform content monetization strategy," he said, citing Univision's recent deal with Hulu.

During 2011, Univision said it planned to make investment in its sales and research organizations, new networks and distribution platforms, and additional soccer tournaments to retain a portion of the ad spending it saw during the World Cup.

Earlier in the year, Univision estimated those investments at $80 million to $90 million, but on a conference call with analysts, CFO Andrew Hobson said that with cost-savings initiative put in place at the beginning of the year, it now appeared those costs would be $70 million.

Of that $70 million, $40 million was going into major soccer tournaments and 430 million was going into support for ad sales research and the launch of new networks. Univision is planning to launch three cable networks next year, one for novellas, one for sports and one for news.

Despite losing its bid to retain Spanish language rights to the World Cup, Falco said Univision is "committed to a robust sports operation and to continue to be the number one destination for sports programming among U.S. Hispanics." He added that the World Cup rights don't move till 2015, which means, "it's not going to affect what we're doing currently."

Univision is also investing in the opportunity presented by election spending in 2012. Hobson said the company expects a record year, with broadcast spending reaching $3 billion to $3.5 billion, including statewide and local races and other ballot initiatives.

"We are investing next year and this year between $5 and $6 million to try to capture a much greater share of that pie," Hobson said. "We're hoping we can improve our performance from the last cycle, which was around $27 million to something like double that with these efforts.

But he said it won't be easy because Univision does not have local properties in the traditional battleground states, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada and New Mexico. It does have stations in Florida, he said, "so we're hopeful, but we have to get a little lucky to get the big windfall."

Univision's television unit had $207.7 million in operating income, up from $200.5 million a year ago as revenue rose to $480.9 million from $472.8 million.

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