Beasley Broadcast Group reports ad revenues down in third quarter

Naples-based radio operator Beasley Broadcast Group pulled out another profitable quarter.

On Friday, the company reported earnings of nearly $1.4 million, or 6 cents a share. That was down nearly 40 percent from $2.3 million, or 10 cents a share, in the same months a year ago.

A decline in advertising spending continues to take a toll on profits.

The company reported net revenue of $24.4 million for the quarter, down $6.2 million from $30.6 million a year ago.

“The third quarter revenue levels reflect declines across all markets, with our largest markets of Miami, Philly and Las Vegas accounting for approximately 66 percent of the overall decline,” said Caroline Beasley, the company’s chief financial officer, in a conference call Friday.

Founded in 1961, Beasley owns or operates 42 stations in 11 large and mid-size markets in the U.S.

“On a comparative basis, the company booked about $420,000 in political advertising in third quarter ‘08, and the lack of such revenue in the third quarter of ‘09 accounted for 1 percent of the year-over-year revenue decline,” Beasley said.

Local advertising has improved. But national advertising “continues to be a disappointment,” with revenues declining 36 percent in the third quarter, she said.

“Overall, the recession’s impact on advertising spending continued to challenge the radio industry during the third quarter of ‘09,” said Bruce Beasley, the company’s president and chief operating officer.

Third quarter results reflect spending declines in retail, auto, restaurant and health care _ Beasley’s four top categories, he said.

The company also underperformed on a national sales level, particularly in Miami and Philadelphia, Bruce Beasley said.

In Miami, revenues fell 23 percent. In Philadelphia, they dropped 16 percent.

The Las Vegas stations outperformed the market, but it remains one of the most economically challenged markets in the country, Caroline Beasley said. Revenue dropped 23 percent.

“We are starting to see some positive signs in our Fort Myers cluster, as our cluster outperformed the market for the third quarter in a row,” Caroline Beasley said.

The company reported another quarter of growth in its digital initiatives, with revenues from those sources increasing 12 percent, she said.

Beasley continues to cut costs to offset revenue declines. Total operating expenses were down 24.3 percent. Expenses declined in part because of the sale of KBET-AM and other assets used to operate KCYE-FM and KFRH-FM in Las Vegas. The company reported a $1.7 million gain on the sale.

Same-station operating income, or income at stations owned at least a year, fell $2.2 million or 24.1 percent in the quarter.

“Today’s report highlights the ability of our station and corporate personnel to effectively manage our portfolio of stations in this environment, Caroline Beasley said.

She said the company will be well positioned when the economy improves because of the disciplined approach it has taken to cut expenses and improve efficiency.

Shares closed at $3.41 on Friday, down 11 cents from the previous close, on Nasdaq.

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