E.W. Scripps Company (New)(OLD) (NASDAQ:SSP) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Feb 28, 2020 • 09:30 am ET


E.W. Scripps Company (New)(OLD) (NASDAQ:SSP) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript


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Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Scripps Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I'll turn the call now over to Ms. Carolyn Micheli, Head of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Carolyn Micheli

Thanks, John. Good morning, everyone and thanks for joining us for discussion of The E.W. Scripps Company's fourth quarter 2019 results. A reminder that our conference call and webcast include forward-looking statements and actual results may differ. Factors that may cause them to differ are outlined in our SEC filings. You can visit scripps.com for more information. You also can sign up to receive e-mails any time we disclose financial information and you can listen to an audio replay of this call there. The link to the replay will be up this afternoon and available for a week.

We'll hear first this morning from Chief Financial Officer, Lisa Knutson; then Local Media President, Brian Lawlor; National Media EVP, Laura Tomlin; and from President and CEO, Adam Symson. Also in the room as Controller and Treasurer, Doug Lyons.

Now, here's Lisa.

Lisa Knutson

Good morning, everyone. Today, Scripps closes the books on a very successful 2019, a year when we more than doubled our TV station portfolio, improved our operating performance and industry position, and significantly grew revenue at our National Media businesses. On January 1, for the first time, we began capturing the value from all of our Comcast households and now we are looking with enthusiasm at the many opportunities we see for our growth this year.

Brian Lawlor and Laura Tomlin will provide more 2020 color in just a moment, but first, I will review the highlights of our strong fourth quarter financial results, which once again beat expectations across the board. And just a reminder, I will discuss our results as though we had owned all of our recently-acquired stations since January 1, 2018. In today's press release, you can find the results on both an as-reported basis and on an adjusted combined basis.

Now, let's talk about our strong performance to complete 2019. In our Local Media division, on an adjusted combined or same-station basis, revenue was $330 million, down 21% from fourth quarter of 2018, when we had $114 million in political ad revenue. Core advertising was up about 5% on an adjusted combined basis. Retransmission revenue with nearly $111 million. Political advertising was $15 million in the fourth quarter. Expenses for Local Media were down more than 5%, in line with our guidance.

Now, let's talk about the rest of the Company's results on an as-reported basis. The National Media division had a very strong fourth quarter, easily surpassing the $100 million mark to hit $113 million of revenue, well above our guidance. Katz, Newsy, Stitcher and Triton, all contributed to the over-performance. National Media expenses were a bit higher than expected for a number of reasons, including the cost tied to the higher revenue and adjustments to the amortization pattern of some of our programming assets. Without those adjustments,