GANNETT CO., INC. THIRD QUARTER
CONFERENCE CALL AND WEBCAST
October 11, 2006
Good day, everyone, and welcome to Gannett's third quarter 2006 earnings
conference call. Today's call is being recorded. Due to the large number of callers,
we will limit you to one question and or comment. We greatly appreciate your
cooperation and courtesy.
Our speakers today are Craig Dubow, Chairman, President and CEO, and Gracia
Martore, Executive Vice President and CFO. At this time, I'd like to turn the call
over to Miss Martore. Please go ahead, ma'am.
Gracia Martore - Gannett Co., Inc. - Executive Vice President & CFO:
Thanks and good morning again. Welcome to our call and Webcast to review our
third quarter results. Hopefully you've had the opportunity to review the press
releases this morning, which also can be found at www.gannett.com. We will
keep our comments relatively short this morning in order to allow enough time
for questions. With me today are Craig Dubow, Chairman, President and CEO,
and Jeff Heinz, Director of Investor Relations. Craig will begin with an update on
some of our strategic initiatives and then I'll follow up with some specific details
on the quarter.
Craig Dubow - Gannett Co., Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO:
Thanks Gracia and good morning.
The strategic direction we’ve had in place for several months now is all about
becoming customer centric, nimble and innovative. There are several initiatives
underway at this time and I’d like to update you on them and we will keep you
posted as they move along. I believe these efforts are positioning us for the future
as we face a changing competitive landscape.
We understand our key franchise is local information delivered how and when
the consumer wants it. We also know that we must enhance and support our
core businesses while growing a robust digital business. These are our key goals
and during the quarter we made some significant strides in moving forward
with this plan.
On the digital front, we are rolling out Planet Discover, our provider of local
search technology, across all of our domestic community newspapers. Linking
useful search technology to our local knowledge translates to outstanding
opportunities for us as more effective local searches connect consumers to more
and better content and advertisers. Increasing our stakes in CareerBuilder,
ShopLocal.com, and Topix.net also solidifies our commitment to the digital
space. CareerBuilder in particular has expanded its position in online
recruitment and leads the industry in job postings, traffic and revenue. Most
recently, we affiliated with Revenue Science to provide us with behavioral
targeting technology for advertising on a national, regional and local basis – a
key element in growing our online advertising.
Creating duopolies with the acquisitions of WATL in Atlanta and KTVD in
Denver enhances our core as did the expansion of the California Newspapers
Partnership. These moves help generate profitable revenue growth while
providing valuable local content. We also acquired some interesting niche
publications – the Florida State University student newspaper and the Marco
Island Sun Times – which speak to our commitment to make smart deals to
support the core and deliver content to readers.
We have come to understand innovation is a key to our success and it is taking
hold deep into Gannett. Our Center for Design and Innovation is accelerating the
best in new ideas through for management approval. Nearly 700 ideas have
already been submitted and the quality and number of strong ideas that are
being generated by employees is impressive and gratifying. Several have been
targeted and green lighted for further development. We’ll have more about this
later in the year.
This innovative mindset is not limited to the Design Center. Our focus on the
customer – becoming truly customer centric – is changing the way we think
throughout Gannett. We recognize the need to be more audience-based in
everything we do and that we need to reach out to new potential customers,
especially advertisers. Pilot programs are demonstrating that we can gather more
and better local content and package it effectively, attracting larger audiences.
Our audience aggregation efforts have all the hallmarks of this customer centric
focus. We are developing a variety of products that deliver consumers to
advertisers – creating that very partnership. The result has been better core
products as well as better digital products and the positive monetization of these
Although our results this quarter reflect a challenging advertising market, we are
quickly putting into place the strategy that will position us for success in this
ever-changing environment. As we build our digital business and enhance our
core assets we are becoming the desired source of information for more people in
our communities. More than anyone else, Gannett is positioned to deliver the
right content to the right audience in newer and better ways. We will continue to
take advantage of our position in the communities we serve to do our best for
our customers – and we believe that will drive our growth in the future.
Now turning to our shorter term results for the quarter –
As you saw in our release this morning, Gannett earned $1.11 per diluted share
this quarter including about 3 cents for stock-based compensation expense.
Overall, our reported operating revenues for the quarter totaled over $1.9 billion.
Operating cash flow was about $524 million in the quarter driven by a 28 percent
increase in operating cash flow in our broadcasting segment compared with last
year’s third quarter.
These results reflect a very challenging advertising environment that softened as
the quarter progressed. Geographic divergence continued with revenues in the
West and South outpacing other regions of the country. On a pro forma basis,
newspaper advertising revenues for the quarter were down a little over 1 percent
although local advertising was up almost 1 percent. In classified, the trends we
experienced at the beginning of the quarter continued through September. Real
estate was positive while employment and automotive remained negative.
National was down due in part to our community newspapers in the South
which could not overcome the level of national advertising related to the
hurricanes in September of 2005.
USA TODAY’s ad revenues were up as they experienced strong growth in some
important categories in the quarter. Gracia will talk about this in a moment.
In the UK, the tough advertising market continued in the third quarter although
we saw a slowing of the revenue declines in the critical categories of auto and
employment in September. Real estate continues to be positive and, in all, our
results benefited from a favorable exchange rate for the quarter.
Broadcast delivered the ratings that helped drive significant increases in our
politically related advertising and resulted in double digit revenue growth. We
expect the political season to be robust in the fourth quarter with a number of
critical elections in our markets.
Audience aggregation is and will continue to be a focus in all of our markets. A
key element of that – providing multiple products in a marketplace to attract the
various audiences – is paying off. Revenue from our local non-daily products –
which do not include Army Times, Nursing Spectrum or Clipper Magazine –
was a source of growth again this quarter. Again, this works to enhance our
Growing our digital business quickly and profitably, which is the other prong of
our strategy, is reflected in a 25 percent growth rate for online revenues company
wide for the quarter. Online revenue at our domestic community newspapers
was up about 21 percent and at Newsquest it increased 38 percent. Online in
broadcasting jumped 48 percent and USA TODAY.com was up 24 percent. Our
latest monthly numbers for September show our domestic Web sites had about
24 million unique users and reached over 15 percent of the Internet audience. In
the UK, Newsquest’s online audience totaled 3.6 million unique visitors with 51
million page impressions.
Again pointing to the strengthening of our digital business, we continue to see
robust growth from CareerBuilder with CareerBuilder Network revenue up 29
percent compared with the third quarter of 2005. Traffic for the Network
increased 22 percent and averaged approximately 22 million for the third
We are enthusiastic about the progress we are making in many of our strategic
initiatives. We are moving quickly to further position Gannett for the future.
So with that let me turn the call over to Gracia –
Before we go into detail on our quarterly results, I need to remind you that our
conference call and Web cast today may include forward-looking statements and
our actual results may differ – factors that might cause them to differ are
outlined in our SEC filings. This presentation also includes certain non-GAAP
financial measures and we have provided a reconciliation of those measures to
the most directly comparable GAAP measures in the press release and on the
Investor Relations portion of our Web site.
Moving to the quarter: A number of items had an impact on our results. Strong
demand for election and issue related advertising as Craig mentioned and the
acquisition of two television stations had a positive impact on the broadcast
segment. The full consolidation of 100 percent of Detroit’s results affected both
revenues and expenses and also the margin for the newspaper segment although
to a lesser degree than past quarters.
The reorganization of the Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership with
MediaNews Group had an impact on our non operating items. Our percentage
of the net results of the partnership is now included in ‘other operating revenues’
rather than fully consolidated in the financial statements, similar to our
California Newspapers Partnership.
Comparisons of this quarter’s results to 2005 again were negatively impacted by
stock compensation expense of $10.3 million.
Let’s get into the details.
Reported newspaper ad revenues were up slightly. Assuming we owned the
same newspapers in both years, total advertising revenues in the newspaper
segment decreased a little more than 1 percent. Pro forma advertising revenue at
our domestic newspapers decreased 1 percent while ad demand at our UK
operations continued to lag, though not as significantly as the first and second
At the category level, there was some deceleration for our domestic properties
while in the UK revenue declines in Newsquest’s classified categories slowed on
a constant currency basis. Some of the softness reflected the spike in oil prices
during the summer months as well as some retrenchment in the housing market
due to higher interest rates. Both of these factors have moderated considerably.
But we’ll just have to see where that takes us over the coming months.
Classified advertising company wide and for our domestic properties declined
about 2 percent for the quarter. Real estate was positive for the quarter while
employment and auto continued to be soft.
Real estate advertising for the entire company was up over 8 percent. Our U.S.
community newspapers’ results were better than the UK – increasing about 9
percent driven by continued strength in the South and Far West.
Employment advertising for the company as a whole and for the U.S. community
newspapers both declined about 6 percent.
Our domestic community newspapers experienced a decline in automotive of
roughly 10 percent reflecting in part easing comparisons. Results for this quarter
improved from declines of about 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively from the
first and second quarters of this year. Company-wide auto was down about 9
and half percent. In the UK, declines in auto slowed considerably in September
relative to July and August.
Looking at local advertising, pro forma at our newspapers, was up almost 1
percent. Across all products, health, restaurant and home improvement were
positive while the department store, furniture, consumer electronics,
entertainment, grocery, financial and telecommunications lagged compared to
the third quarter last year. As we predicted last year, we are seeing the impact of
the Federated/May merger though it’s being partially offset by increased
spending from some other retailers.
National advertising revenue was down over 3 percent for the quarter due in
part to the absence of hurricane-related advertising in the South in September
2005. Gains in telecommunications, retail, home and building, real estate and
pharmaceutical at USA TODAY were partially offset by a little bit of softness in
automotive, package goods, classified and advocacy.
In the UK, revenues for Newsquest – in pounds – were down 5 percent.
Newsquest’s operating profit – again in pounds and including the cost of staff
reductions – was 13 percent lower. The UK ad market remains challenging.
However, we are seeing indication that the worst of the declines are ending and
some of the tougher comparisons have been cycled. While revenues are still
down year-over-year for Newsquest categories that have been hit the hardest –
auto and employment – a number of properties had revenue in September that
was flat relative to the year before. Newsquest’s revenues and NIBT declines
during the third quarter improved, compared with both the first and second
quarters of this year.
As always, our team in the UK has kept things very tight on the cost side.
Significant cost savings have been achieved by management primarily through
the rationalization of back office operations. We remain well positioned to
benefit from the anticipated return to growth.
Pro forma revenues for Broadcast, including Captivate, increased about 11
percent compared with last year. Total revenues on a pro forma basis at our TV
stations also were up about 11 percent. National ad revenue advanced about 19
percent and local was up about 6 percent. As expected, significantly higher
demand related to political advertising and increased online revenue growth
drove the growth.
The latest pacings for the fourth quarter overall are up in the mid-to-high, and
I’d say in the mostly high, single digits compared with last year’s fourth quarter.
We expect election and issue-related advertising demand to accelerate as we
approach November 7th. In fact, pacings for October are up in the very high
That is what it looks like at the moment. We will update you via our monthly
Now let’s take a quick look at expenses. The items I said had an impact on
revenue had an impact on expenses as well. As I have done previously, I want to
sort through some of the factors to give you a clearer picture on an apples-to-
As I mentioned before, stock-based compensation was $10.3 million – about $6.4
million after tax or 3 cents per share. Roughly $6 million was allocated to the
newspaper segment, approximately $1 million to broadcasting and $3 million
was allocated to corporate.
Our reported expenses were up about 5 percent. However, excluding those stock-
based compensation expenses, and on a pro forma basis, expenses for the quarter
increased just over 1 percent. And this quarter we did not have the benefit from
changes in certain retiree benefits in the U.S., which was about $7.6 million in the
third quarter last year.
In the newspaper segment, there was a 4 percent increase in reported expenses.
However, on a pro forma basis – and that assumes we owned 100 percent of
Detroit and the same complement of properties in the third quarter of 2006 and
2005 and excluding stock compensation expense – newspaper expenses would
have been up less than 1 percent.
Reported newsprint expense was up 6.6 percent in the quarter. Price was up
about 11 percent offset by about 4 percent lower usage. If you look at that on a
pro forma basis, newsprint expense was 4.4 percent higher with usage down
about 6 percent.
So to put it into perspective – pro forma newspaper segment expenses, excluding
stock-based compensation and newsprint expense – would have been up only
three tenths of one percent.
In the broadcasting segment, operating costs were up about 11 percent higher on
a reported basis. Excluding stock-based compensation expense and on a pro
forma basis, costs were up about 6 percent reflecting higher sales costs related to
the double digit revenue advance.
Corporate expenses were 16 percent higher due to stock option expense.
Excluding that, our corporate expenses would have been 3.6 percent lower.
One comment on the tax rate for the quarter – the lower tax rate reflects the
favorable settlement of several state tax audits in the quarter as well as a further
refinement of our Section 199 manufacturing deduction now that additional rules
are in place. Looking to the fourth quarter, we have several state and federal
items, along with the Section 199 deduction, that if resolved as we anticipate,
would have helped us sustain this rate.
Back to newsprint for a moment: Gannett again secured longer term price
arrangements through the second-half of 2006 covering a substantial amount of
our requirements. As the drop in consumption accelerates, supply and demand
is shifting in favor of publishers. In recognition of these market realities,
producers publicly rolled back an August increase from $40 per metric ton to $20
per metric ton. Despite these lowered expectations, however, implementation
has faltered as producers face strong resistance, and it becomes clearer that prices
have reached the upper limit. In further support of this shift in supply and
demand, a Canadian mill producing 190,000 metric tons recently announced it
will restart operations after a 10-month shutdown. And late last week, a West
Coast producer began notifying customers of its decision to cancel the price
increase. Other producers are likely to soon follow this lead.
Finally, before we go to questions, let me give you some of the key balance sheet
items. Total debt at quarter-end, stood at $5.5 billion reflecting the TV
acquisitions, the CareerBuilder, Topix and ShopLocal additional investments, the
California Newspapers Partnership buy-up and share repurchases. Cash and
marketable securities were $132 million. At this point, our all-in cost of debt is
5.4 percent with commercial paper at 5.3 percent.
Capital expenditures for the quarter totaled approximately $44 million and $135
million year-to-date. We now expect cap ex to be about $225 million for the year,
down from the $240 million originally budgeted.
With respect to shares outstanding, basic shares at the end of the quarter were
234.3 million and the quarterly average was 235.9 million. We repurchased 2.6
million shares in the third quarter – doubling the amount we repurchased in the
Now we’ll stop and take your questions.
QUESTION AND ANSWER
Paul Ginocchio - Deutsche Bank – Analyst:
Thanks. Gracia, just wondering about the share buyback. It seems relative to
your billion dollar announcement back in, I think it was July 25th, it's not
actually that active of a buyback. Are you thinking about doing something
differently with the cash flow, higher dividend or anything else? Thanks.
Paul, as I mentioned, we did double the amount of shares we repurchased this
quarter compared to the second quarter. However, with respect to our free cash
flow, as I also mentioned, we had a number of acquisitions and additional
investments that we completed in the quarter, which used up some of that free
cash flow. Last year we increased our dividend by 7% and I would anticipate
that you will see a similar situation this year. We continue to have the same focus
we've always had on our free cash flow redeployment – which means we will
continue to do strong accretive acquisitions as we have done this year. We'll also
look at share repurchases at the same time if those make sense, and we'll also
return some value to shareholders through dividends. But at any given point in
time, depending on the opportunities, that will determine how we split up the
dollars. I would say that there are a few things right now that we're looking at on
the acquisition front. We'll have to see how those play out.
Okay. And Craig, your focus has been more smaller Internet acquisitions that
just don't seem to be using up the cash flow like, the historically traditional
media acquisitions have. So does that force to you change your, sort of, thoughts
No. There have been, as you have noted already and we talked about, with
Planet Discover and a few of the smaller ones, but that's not in any way limiting
for us. By some of the other step-ups we have done relative to CareerBuilder, our
partnerships in California, etc., it has no impact. Again, what we're trying to do
is make certain, as Gracia clearly indicated here, that we're looking for very
accretive opportunities that would make the most economic sense for us.
Lauren Fine - Merrill Lynch – Analyst:
A couple of questions. CareerBuilder’s growth rate seems to have slowed, and
I'm wondering if you can give us a sense if you think that's temporary or if it's
what we should expect perspectively? And then, I'm wondering if you can
comment on just how bad things are in Detroit?
With regard to the CareerBuilder growth rate, Lauren, I think that Matt Ferguson
in a press release about job prospects, indicated that if you look at the Bureau of
Labor Statistics numbers on job growth, the numbers had slowed from the first
quarter to the third quarter. In the first quarter, the B.L.S. numbers were
something like 176,000 and that had slowed to about 128,000 or so. The job sites,
as well as our own results, reflect some of that slowing that we saw over the
summer. The slowing, I think, in part reflects some of the uncertainty that folks
felt with rates increasing and fuel costs increasing, the uncertainty surrounding
the war in Iraq and other factors. I think we're just going to have to see how all of
those things unfold. Certainly interest rates and fuel prices have moderated,
which may make companies a little bit more comfortable going forward on the
hiring front. We'll just have to see how that evolves and CareerBuilder will
continue to do the great job they've been doing. They are the number one site
across the board, in every metric. We feel very good about their future prospects
both domestically as well as overseas. About Detroit. There’s a tough, tough
revenue environment in Detroit, but our folks there have been doing a terrific job
in terms of dealing with the expense side of the equation. They understand the
need for their expense picture to keep pace with what is happening on the
revenue side. Detroit's a tough area, but they are doing a good job on the expense
side to moderate that issue.
Given its size, can you give us any sense of how much worse than the overall
division results the top line really was? And then I guess just taking a step back
for the whole group, the change in retail momentum if you can give any more
color on that, too?
On Detroit, their revenue numbers would have been more similar to what we've
been experiencing in all of the auto-based economies, which would have seen
higher declines than the average. I don't have the specific numbers in front
of me, but again, we'll continue to address that on the expense side. As to the
retail picture, as we mentioned, we had projected that the Federated-May merger
would have an impact on our retail revenues in this year, probably in
the middle of the year. We're starting to see that. But clearly, some of that is
being mitigated by increased spending by some of the other larger retailers and
also the focus we've placed on the very, very local advertisers. We are
bringing more non-customers into the fold as part of the audience aggregation
efforts we have been doing. You're seeing, as we had projected, that the
Federated-May merger, with the stores now rebranding and all of the rest,
there's the uncertainty of the spending there, and we're beginning to see the
impact or have been seeing and are seeing it more so right now.
Lauren, jumping back just for a second to Detroit. With the work that Craig
Moon and the team are doing there, we are very comfortable. What we need to
see, obviously, is some pickup in the economics in that market. To date, overall,
with everything that has been done, we feel very, very comfortable with the
direction this is heading. We just need a little economic help.
One last thing on retail. Anything going on with preprints at all that's unusual,
positive or negative? And, as you look at the fourth quarter, any optimism
overall on retail, especially given fuel prices coming down?
On preprints, what we've seen over the last several months has been that
advertisers have been reducing the number of pages and reducing the sizing of
some of the preprints. As we had indicated a couple of years ago, when preprint
revenue and distribution was rising, it is impacted by newsprint pricing. As
newsprint prices rise, we tend to see a pullback on the preprint side because they
are directly affected by that pretty quickly. So I think there is some combination
of factors. I think it's too early for to us predict what the fourth quarter is going
to bring. I've seen some mixed reports out on whether this is going to be a
particularly merry Christmas or not with fuel prices moderating, with interest
rates moderating and the jump we saw on mortgage applications at least last
week. The consumer could be in better spirits in the fourth quarter than they
have been in the summer months when they had a lot of things at play.
Craig Huber - Lehman Brothers – Analyst:
Could you just clarify, your tax rate, you said it would probably continue,
roughly 31.5% in the fourth quarter. What's your expectation, though, for next
year for your tax rate?
It’s probably a little too early for us to have a specific number on that. That's part
of the process we go through at the end of the year. I can tell you, obviously, that
the manufacturing deduction, which has benefited us, will continue. It will also,
in part, be dependent on where Newsquest's earnings are because, as you know,
we pay a lower statutory rate in the UK than we do here in the US. There's a
bunch of factors. But we feel good about our ability to sustain that rate assuming
things go our way in the fourth quarter. We could also see some positives into
the new year if a variety of factors move as we expect. We'll give you more color
on that in December when we share all of our assumptions.
Also, looking at your help wanted, it's weakening for you and others as well. Do
you have any sense on what labor categories you're seeing the biggest fall off.
Also, could you talk about the regions as well for help wanted? Thank you.
Yes, Craig. We really don't categorize it by the type of job. In some of the markets
like the South and the West where there were very, very hot real estate markets,
and as we've seen housing permits fall over the last few months, I would suspect
we're probably seeing the impact of that on job creation as folks aren't going out
and doing speculative developments and the like. But don't have any better color
than that. I also assume the healthcare side is probably continuing to be strong.
But on the manufacturing side, we're probably seeing some caution on hiring
and obviously in the Midwest, where we've got the domestic auto-based
economy, clearly they continue to suffer from the layoffs that are continuing to
be announced in Detroit.
I assume there's still a change of control provision with Career Builder? I'm just
asking given the Tribune situation. Thank you.
Yes. We would never speak to what's going on at Tribune. But just so you are
aware in the new agreements, in the event of a sale or change of control, the
economic interest of Tribune would remain with the buyer. We would not have,
therefore, the ability to purchase that interest. However it also provides, under
certain circumstances, for some substantial operational control to be shifted to us,
in terms of things like board representation and voting arrangements –
depending on what would happen either to us or to Tribune or whatever.
Alexia Quadrani - Bear Stearns – Analyst:
First, Craig, just following up on your acquisition comments earlier, do you feel
your focus has changed a bit from perhaps a year ago, given the ongoing
challenges of traditional media? And would it be fair to say that you're more
focused on the digital space given your recent investments and you're less likely
to make a significant investment in the newspaper area at this point? Then a
second question. Just following up on Newsquest. How much of the weakness
there do you really think is reflective of the weaker economic environment
versus possible share shifts in the media? Put another way, in a more stabilized
normalized economic environment, what is your growth anticipation for the
From a couple of the traditional investments we have participated in this year –
in Denver and Atlanta – we still feel absolutely enthusiastic about larger market
duopolies and what this can mean to us. What we have proven in Jacksonville,
and with the expectation now of Denver and Atlanta, that will continue. We see
these as good opportunities. As well, as we have demonstrated with our step-up
in the California partnership this year, that we'll continue to pursue pportunities
that enhance the core – depending on what the economics are, and if we believe
we can make real sense out of it. We're taking very, very hard looks on the digital
side. We think from what we have created with our partners in CareerBuilder,
we have tremendous opportunity there. How that lines up as we go forward is
something we're paying extremely close attention to. We have no restrictions on
how we would pursue an investment. The key is how it will fit with the rest of
the portfolio -- will it contribute in the way we want and have traditionally
wanted for the kinds of growth we are looking at? Beyond that, we're not going
to restrict it. We're looking again at everything that would make good economic
sense. Gracia, do you want to talk about Newsquest?
Sure. Alexia, on Newsquest, there are a number of factors there. Number one, in
part it's the consumer economy there that has been somewhat constrained over
the last year or so. But I also think there is some consolidation
that has gone on in the automobile dealership arena similar to some of the
consolidation that has gone on in this country, only they’ve just experienced it
later. That has had an impact on automotive. Then in employment, the
government – which has always been a sizable factor in employment -- has
slowed hiring considerably. So, you've got a variety of factors in the UK, which
have impacted their results. With regard to share shift, there are some dollars
that have flowed out into the Internet space. We happen to have a significant
ownership stake in Fish4, which is the beneficiary of some of those dollars. We’re
very pleased with that investment and have seen some good growth there. But,
as is the case here, that probably is more prevalent on the national side of it and
in the larger urban markets rather than in some of the smaller regional areas of
Do you think you might be able to see positive revenue growth in a healthier
economic environment in those properties?
In a healthier environment, absolutely.
Absolutely. I have to just comment here, Alexia. Paul Davidson and his group
are so well positioned at this point through the expense management they have
done over the course of the last year. If we get a slight uptick, you will see that
Christa Sober Quarles - Thomas Weisel Partners – Analyst:
One followup on CareerBuilder. I was wondering if you could just indicate
whether or not 100% of their revenues are career-related? Whether they have
other advertising in the mix there or not? And then I think you said your own
online revenue were up 25%? I was just wondering if you could indicate what
help wanted was up within that? Thanks
With regard to CareerBuilder, if you are speaking to other verticals, no.
Recruitment and job seekers would be the thrust of that entire business.
Classified ventures would have the other verticals that we're involved with.
Christa Sober Quarles:
I was actually just referring to general advertising on the site – I mean if you
classify that strictly as career related?
My sense is, and I'll go back and look at this, but my sense is that it's pretty much
all career related.
Christa Sober Quarles:
If it's anything else, it’s a small piece of the pie as can be imagined.
Christa Sober Quarles:
And then on your own?
On our own Internet revenues?
Christa Sober Quarles:
Yes. Within that help wanted.
Yes, I think we mentioned that they were down 6%.
Christa Sober Quarles:
Just online, sorry.
Oh, online, no. Our online revenues were not down in the employment sector.
They were up again.
Christa Sober Quarles:
Okay. And were they up in the range for your overall online, which would be
that 25%, I think, that you gave?
Actually, they were up but a smaller percentage. It was a double-digit percentage
increase for the quarter but not, obviously, the 25% that we alluded to – at least
in our new domestic newspaper operations. I simply don't have the breakdown
for the UK, although their revenue growth on the online side outstripped the fact
they had a decline in employment revenues on the print side.
Debra Schwartz - Credit Suisse – Analyst:
On broadcast, can you comment if you've seen any change in pacings since NBC
launched their fall schedule? Then, can you also quantify how much political was
in the quarter?
Sure. First of all, reflective to NBC, I think you are beginning to see some nice
uptick, specifically with the Sunday night football that has been added. It's
gotten off to an extremely positive start. Some of their other new programming
as well has done quite nicely. With respect to political, we have been seeing
through third quarter quite a bit of increase. Lots and lots is coming in on
the issue side. And a lot of party money, specifically from the Democratic as well
as Republican side. The markets we're really seeing it in most recently are
Cleveland, Denver, Phoenix and Tampa where the biggest increases have come.
We're anticipating at this point that it will significantly improve further as we
approach November 7, but we are looking for a very robust 4Q on that.
Could I ask a quick question on newsprint? I think it was last quarter, Gracia
mentioned you were going to start to look to China for newsprint. Can you
update us on your thinking there? It seems like pricing in the US has sort of
stabilized. Do you still need to look to China?
Yes. We actually have, as I think I mentioned, tried and piloted some newsprint
in several of our newspapers and have done so quite successfully. The quality is
very good, reflecting the new mills they have there. We'll see trickles of it, but I
think the main thrust of it will be coming in the beginning in the first quarter of
next year. We should see some good amounts of volume coming in from China
starting at the beginning of the year. We are very pleased with what we trialed
and anticipate that we will be a buyer.
Debra Schwartz - Credit Suisse – Analyst:
About how much of your newsprint do you expect to get from China?
I would not want to speculate on that at the moment.
Lisa Monaco - Morgan Stanley – Analyst:
What was the thinking behind the change in the cap ex guidance? And is it
possible for you to quantify what percentage of your advertising comes from
Federated and May?
With regard to the cap ex guidance: We set a budget, then as the year progresses,
we take a look at the projects again to make sure that the returns that were
indicated initially actually are coming to fruition. Then, as is typical, some
projects tend to fall out or get deferred because certain contracts aren't
necessarily negotiated. Or we simply just re-look at a project and decide it's not
the right time to do it. A little bit of that will slip into next year but most of it is
just projects that did not live up to the ROIs we had hoped we could obtain from
the projects and therefore we passed on them.
Do you think that's a good number going forward for normalized cap ex?
We’ve completed a press project in Binghamton this year that consolidated three
newspaper printing operations. We haven't finalized the number yet, but you
could expect to see that cap ex will drop a little bit farther next year. We’ll give
that you that final number in December.
Then quickly on Federated?
On Federated, I'll have to get back to you on that. We'll have Jeff give you a call
and also share that with all of the other participants on the call.
Brian Shipman - UBS – Analyst:
Thanks, good morning. I was wondering if you could give us a little extra color
on how October is shaping up on a newspaper side? You mentioned some data
points for broadcasting. I just wanted to see if you could talk about newspapers
It's really early in the quarter, Brian. I can say that from the weekly notes we get
on USA TODAY, they're anticipating a positive quarter in the fourth quarter.
They're feeling pretty good about their ability to generate advertising
throughout the quarter. On Newsquest, a little easier comparison for them. In the
couple of weeks we've seen so far, the expectations they had coming into the
quarter have been exceeded a little bit each week. Again, it’s a long way until the
end of the year. On the domestic side, we just don't have any really good early
indicators yet of how the quarter's shaping up. We'll keep you posted in the
monthly rev and stat reports we send out. That's kind of what we're seeing only
about 11 days into the quarter.
Steven Barlow - Prudential Equity Group – Analyst:
Back to newsprint for a second. Are you willing to share what the price
differential with Chinese paper would be from the U.S.?
I'm afraid not. But I would say that it is favorable compared to the U.S.
Fair enough. Then, on the combination of Tex-Mex and Detroit. Is there any way
to give us sort of an EPS impact from this quarter versus a year ago? And how is
that trending and where might it trend towards the fourth quarter?
On the Tex-Mex side, I think that they are doing reasonably well. They are a little
bit of a positive. On the Detroit side, as we've said, they're struggling a bit. But to
break out what the EPS impact would be is difficult for us to do at this point. Just
to refresh your memory, you'll see the impact of Tex-Mex for the full quarter in
the fourth quarter it will still have that slight distortion. In Detroit, we have now
cycled Detroit as of August 1st so in the fourth quarter will be apples to apples
Lastly, is there any prediction on what quarter the UK is going to turn around? It
looks like it's stabilizing.
Unfortunately, businesses don't necessarily fall into specific quarters so we'll just
have to keep watching the numbers. You'll see in the fourth quarter, hopefully
better numbers than we saw in the third quarter and in the second. I don't want
to predict at this time because we're just in the midst of our budgeting process
and I'd like those folks over there to give us all of the good news beforehand.
The only thing to add from a category standpoint would be in the housing area.
As we talked about in previous conferences, the Northeast had just been slightly
up and what we're seeing is that expand a bit into South of London. As Gracia
said, it's not much at this point, but we’re keeping a close eye and we'll be over
there shortly, going through the budget process. We'll have a better handle on it
here very shortly.
John Janedis - Wachovia – Analyst:
Can you give us your thoughts at USATODAY.com as it relates to display
advertising and rates? What had been your typical rate increases? And, as others
offer similar rates, is there potential for CPM increases to flatten over time? And
then, do you think you may be losing some share to Monster on the help wanted
It's a little bit difficult for to us project out what's going to happen with CPMs.
We continue to see very good growth at USATODAY.com. They just had a very
strong quarter for us, and it's really difficult for us to project out where the CPM
side of it will be. We're anticipating at USATODAY.com they are going to have
another strong quarter in the next quarter, but a little difficult for us to at this
point speculate on that.
Historically, has it been double digits?
In terms of?
CPM growth at USATODAY.com.
Historically, that's a little difficult to say because pre the Dot-Com meltdown, the
numbers were roaring. You could charge any price, pretty much, that the market
would bear. The Dot-Com meltdown came and they were impacted terrifically
by the national side of things. Now we've built that back up, so it's a little hard to
say, but we'll try to get a little bit more color on that if we can and then get back
Okay, thanks. Anything on the Monster side in terms of CareerBuilder? Do you
think it's just a slowdown or do you think you may be losing share?
No. If anything, we're increasing share against the number two job site.
We feel very good about where Career Builder is headed. They are a clear
number one and we're not losing market share in any way, shape or form. In fact,
if anything, we believe we're continuing to pick up market share here in North
America. You have to be careful comparing apples to apples there, North
America to North America.
Fred Searby - J.P. Morgan – Analyst:
Just one quick question. Can you give us just some color around the auto on the
broadcast side? It's been a challenging category in retail as well, if you look at
that both in the prior quarter and in the pacings. How is that doing given the
head winds the sectors are facing overall. Thank you.
Domestically, from a pacings standpoint, are seeing a greater challenge. Frankly,
the broadcast side has done quite well from the foreign manufacturers,
particularly in Toyota and Honda. They've done very well. From a retail
perspective, it has been moving up and down. Still, there is no clear indication as
we go into the pre holiday season exactly where things are. I think it's still a bit
too early. We would certainly hope there would be some improvement in what
we are seeing, but again, it's a bit early to comment.
And auto is pacing positive in the fourth quarter at this point.
I think we have time for one more question because our friends at Media General
are on at 11:00.
Peter Salkowski - Goldman Sachs – Analyst:
A quick question on the classified side with regards to real estate. I noticed in the
quarter that the year-over-year growth rates slowed quite dramatically as the
quarter progressed. I'm wondering if that's a function of several years of robust
growth there? Do you believe this trend's going to continue? Will we see
negative numbers coming into the first quarter of '07? Also wondering, with
regards to online revenue, what percentage of your online revenue or how much
online revenue you're seeing from a real estate classified advertising?
It's probably a little too early to be predicting negative numbers on real estate.
We were up a nice percentage again, and as you said, that's on top of pretty good
growth that we've experienced over the last couple of years. Some of the
softening reflects the fact that in some parts of the country, particularly with new
homes and the developers, with housing permits down and with fewer housing
starts, we're seeing a little bit of softness there. At the same time, on the resale
market, with the inventory of houses higher, and the time on the market longer,
we're still continuing to see good follow through there. I'm not sure that I would
necessarily subscribe to the thought that we will see negative real estate numbers
in the first quarter unless interest rates were to go back up considerably. That
could have an impact, but we're not projecting negative real estate in the first
quarter. In online, with regard to real estate in the US, it's a piece of the pie,
maybe in the 8% or 9% range. But it’s not as significant as employment or
actually some of our local online revenues.
I would think that's the next category to go online?
Yes, well, through our ownership in Classified Ventures, that's an area of
significant focus for them as well as us. We'll continue to look to do the right
thing vis-a-vis the real estate side of it. We have to be careful that we don't
interpret some of the slowdown on the new homes building as morhping into the
online side of the business necessarily.
Excellent. One quick last question on newsprint. In terms of year-over-year
growth rates on the price increases, do you expect sometime in '07 we'll start to
see a flattening? I think your prices were up in the third quarter here, probably
up a little bit in the fourth quarter?
We would hope that given what we have now seen vis-a-vis the August price
increase, there's carry-through of the earlier year price increases they were able
to put through the reduced levels. We'll have to cycle those over the first couple
of quarters, but that's clearly a possibility.
This does conclude our conference call for today. We appreciate your
participation. You may disconnect at this time.
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