System Delay Hammers Arbitron

Shares fall 20%.
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Marketing research firm

Arbitron

(ARB)

saw its shares dive 20% following word that it will postpone the rollout of its new electronic radio-ratings service in nine U.S. metropolitan areas.

As a result, Arbitron cut its forecast for this year and next. Earnings for 2007 will likely be $1.30 to $1.35, down from its earlier projection of $1.35 to $1.45. Profits in 2008 will probably be cut by 22 cents to 33 cents.

The commercialization of the Portable People Meter service will be delayed in New York City and on Long Island; in Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties in New Jersey; in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Francisco and San Jose in California; and in both Chicago and Dallas. The delays will be from three to nine months.

Shares of Arbitron were losing $9.85 to $39.06.