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Meredith Corporation (MDP)

F4Q12 Earnings Conference Call

July 26, 2012 11:00 AM ET


Mike Lovell – IR

Steve Lacy – President and CEO

Joe Ceryanec – VP and CFO

Tom Cox – VP, Digital Content


John Crowther – Piper Jaffray

Richard Ingrassia – Roth Capital Partners

Jason Bazinet – Citi

Matthew Chesler – Deutsche Bank

Barry Lucas – Gabelli & Company

Paul Karpowicz

Daniel Kurnos – Benchmark Company



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Welcome to the Meredith Corporation Report Fiscal 2012 fourth quarter and full year results conference call. (Operator Instructions) Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder this conference will be recorded. I will now turn the conference over to the director of Investor Relations, Mike Lovell. Please go ahead.

Mike Lovell

Good morning and thanks everyone for joining us. We’ll start this morning with comments from Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Steve Lacy, and Chief Financial Officer, Joe Ceryanec, then we’ll turn the call over to questions. Also on the line this morning are Paul Karpowicz, President of our Local Media Group and Tom Hardy, President of our National Media Group. An archive of today’s discussion will be available later this afternoon on our IR website and a transcript will follow that.

Our remarks today will include forward-looking statements and actual results may differ from our forecasts. Some of the reasons why are described at the end of our news release issued earlier today and in some of our SEC filings and with that Steve will begin.

Steve Lacy

Thank you very much, Mike, and good morning, everyone. I hope you’ve seen our news release issued earlier today that detailed our fiscal 2012 fourth quarter and full year results. I’ll start this morning with a review of the business highlights and strategic accomplishments we’ve delivered in both the fourth quarter and the full fiscal year. Then Joe Ceryanec will discuss progress on our total shareholder return strategy and our outlook for the first quarter and fiscal 2013 and then we’ll be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

Looking briefly at our business highlights in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, total company revenues increased 6% and earnings per share grew by 2%. Local Media Group revenues increased 9%. Nonpolitical advertising revenues rose by 6% and EBITDA margin grew to 40% in the quarter.

National Media Group revenues increased by 5% as our recent acquisitions boosted both advertising and circulation revenue. Digital advertising revenues nearly doubled to a record high. Total digital related revenues accounted for about 10% of our total company revenues in the quarter. And finally, our connection to the individual consumer continued to strengthen. Meredith television stations delivered strong ratings during the May sweets period. In addition, our magazine readership and unique visitors to our websites both reached record highs.

Now stepping back to take a look at full fiscal 2012, during the year we executed a series of very well defined strategic initiatives designed to generate growth in revenue, operating profit and free cash flow and increase shareholder value over time. We kept tight control on our expenses which declined 3% excluding the recent acquisitions. We also faced challenged including magazine advertising and performance at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. I’ll cover those in the operating group discussions in just a few moments.

Our fiscal 2012 key strategic initiatives included implementation of our total shareholder return strategy and this initiative has helped drive a significant increase in shareholder values since its launch last fall, the acquisition of, the world’s largest digital food brand.

We’re now the number one digital food media company and in the top three in the important digital women’s lifestyle category. We launched a variety of new digital products including tablet additions of most of our national brands and rapidly expanded our mobile platform in both businesses. We now have 20 brands available in tablet form across all major platforms and approximately 50 mobile apps. We’ve purchased the Every Day with Rachel Ray and FamilyFun brands. These acquisitions help grow our share of U.S. magazine industry advertising revenues to nearly 12%.

We extended our very successful brand licensing arrangement with Wal-Mart for the Better Homes and Gardens line of products through 2016. And finally, we expanded and monetized our local media group video content. We accomplished this through an increased and local news programming hours along with more national video content creation and greater syndication. As I’ve pointed out on earlier calls we’re aggressively executing a strategic plan designed to position Meredith for growth in shareholder value over time. We’re implementing strategies that extend across all of our businesses, posses significant digital components and capitalize on the broad content creation and marketing capabilities that we possess.

I am now pleased to review our progress in more detail starting with our Local Media business. The Local Media group continued it’s very strong performance throughout fiscal 2012. We delivered year-over-year growth in non-political advertising revenue each quarter. That continues a streak that is now lasted three years. For the full year, non-political advertising revenues increased 6%. We grew the other revenue category 25% during the year mostly as a result of our operation of Turner’s Peachtree station in the Atlanta marketplace. Meredith video studios increased revenues nearly 30% and are nationally syndicated the Better Show expanded its reach and was renewed for a sixth season.

We increased our digital presence in the local media group by relaunching station websites and the introduction of a wide variety of mobile apps. Most importantly, we monetized that growth by increasing digital advertising revenues more than 55%. Our stations delivered excellent ratings during the important suite measurement periods which helped strengthen advertising rates for the upcoming fiscal year as we head into a promising election cycle. We accomplished all of this in an efficient and cost effective manner as evidence by a 3% decrease in expenses.

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