EARNINGS CALL

Meredith Execs Projects Strong Ad Growth

CEO Tom Harty: “Assuming no changes in trajectory from COVID or other macro factors,” in the current quarter, he expects “non-political spot advertising revenues to be up in the 40% range.”

After reporting non-political TV spot advertising up 5% to $74.5 million in Meredith Corp.’s fiscal third quarter (ended March 31), President-CEO Tom Harty told Wall Street to expect even stronger growth in the current quarter. And that strong ad performance isn’t limited to TV, which is the Local Media Group at Meredith, but also for the National Media Group, which is the company’s magazines and related digital properties.

“As we look into our fiscal 2021 fourth quarter, compared to the prior year period, assuming no changes in trajectory from COVID or other macro factors, we expect National Media Group digital advertising revenues up in the 70% range [with] magazine advertising revenues approximately flat. And Local Media Group non-political spot advertising revenues to be up in the 40% range,” Harty said.

Later in the call, Local Media Group President Patrick McCreery provided details on some of the strong categories for TV ad sales. “Professional services continues to show strength and growth,” he said, noting that the category now accounts for about 25% of TV ad sales, with auto at 20%.

“We saw very modest growth for auto in [fiscal] Q3, at like plus-3. As soon as these chips and rubber shortages all right themselves and sort themselves out, I think the shape of the rest of the calendar year — as that recovers, so will the advertising piece behind auto. We do continue to see strength in Professional and Home, and we don’t look for those to abate,” McCreery said.

He’s also looking ahead to the next political cycle. “I’m very excited about our ’22 cycle, even against our amazing ’20 cycle. You know, we have 13 governors and 13 senate seats. And you’ve heard me say this before. Even though we had a great presidential run in ’20, the reality is a larger percentage of our political revenues come from those hotly contested governor and senate races — and we’re going to have a whole slate of those across our footprint, so I think what you’ll see will be record setting,” McCreery said.

Earlier in the call, CFO Jason Frierott had noted strong growth in advertising for sports betting in the past quarter. “While online sports betting is currently legal in four of our 12 markets, there are currently legalization efforts in seven of our remaining eight markets,” he noted.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Yes, as you would expect, CEO Harty was asked during the Q&A about recent rumors that Meredith is considering a sale of its TV properties. As you would also expect, he replied that there would be “no public comments” about what the Meredith board is or is not doing in that regard.


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