The broadcaster’s $43 million in political money, plus retrans and digital media revenue, boosts its revenue total in quarter to $234 million. For the full year, it posts an 11% revenue gain.
Hearst-Argyle Television today announced that revenue in the fourth quarter of 2006 increased 22% over the the fourth quarter of 2005, from $192 million to $234.4 million.
Political revenue, which was a record for the period, increased by $42.7 million, to $49.6 million. Retransmission consent revenue and net digital-media revenue also increased, by $3.1 million and $5.2 million, respectively. These increases were partially offset by a $1.9 million decrease in network compensation.
Digital media operating expenses of $3.3 million and $1.8 million in stock-based compensation expense were new expense items in the fourth quarter of 2006.
Adjusted EBITDA increased 28% to $102.8 million compared to $80.0 million, and income applicable to common shareholders was $44.1 million, compared to $9.9 million for fourth-quarter 2005.
For the full year ended Dec. 31, 2006, total revenue increased 11%, to $785.4 million from $706.9 million in 2005. Net political advertising revenue was a record $88 million compared to $12.4 million in 2005 and $86.7 million in 2004. The company’s 10 NBC affiliates generated $17.0 million in net advertising revenue from the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in the first quarter. Digital media operating expenses of $10.1 million and $7.6 million in stock-based compensation expense were new expense items in 2006. Adjusted EBITDA was $287.9 million, compared to $258.4 million.
Commenting on the year, David Barrett, president and CEO, said in a statement: “Our company’s strong fourth quarter results contributed to a year of solid financial performance. Operating results were fueled by a record level of political spending in the fourth quarter and for the full year, enabling many of our local stations to achieve record revenue and cash flow levels in 2006. Our ongoing focus on localism, news leadership, and the ratings optimization of syndicated and network programming enabled our stations to capture superior audience ratings and leading revenue shares in 2006.
“And we continue to be encouraged by the burgeoning growth of our digital media efforts. In 2006 our local Web sites generated 1.3 billion page views and 38 million video streams by an average 4 million monthly unique visitors, clearly validating our efforts to build out a new medium that extends our local station brands, and serves a new generation of on-demand media consumers. Our strong local television business is enabling and funding exciting new opportunities in digital media, which should be key growth drivers for our company. We are accelerating these efforts, focusing on video broadband initiatives, television multicasting products and mobile distribution of our proprietary content, and we have reorganized our management structure to encourage and support growth objectives.
“Extraordinary political spending in 2006 helped to offset some continuing weakness in the automotive category, particularly in respect to domestic manufacturers,” Barrett noted. “It is clear that the political category is highly reliable, albeit cyclical in nature, and continues to be a positive catalyst for our company. It is already apparent that this category will be quite buoyant in 2008 for stations and companies, like ours, that are built on a bedrock of localism and news leadership.”
To read the company’s press release, click here.