Nexstar Broadcasting Group's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Nexstar Broadcasting Group (NXST)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 08, 2012 10:00 am ET


Perry A. Sook - Founder, Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President, Chief Executive Officer of Nexstar Broadcasting Inc, President of Nexstar Broadcasting Inc and Director of Nexstar Broadcasting Inc

Thomas E. Carter - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Executive Vice President


Aaron Watts - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Bishop Cheen - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Edward J. Atorino - The Benchmark Company, LLC, Research Division

Barry L. Lucas - Gabelli & Company, Inc.

Andrew Finkelstein - Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division

John Kornreich



Good day, and welcome to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group's 2012 First Quarter Conference Call. Today's call is being recorded.

All statements and comments made by management during this conference other than statements of historical fact may be deemed forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21A of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. The company's future financial conditions and results of operations, as well as forward-looking statements, are subject to change.

The forward-looking statements and comments made during the conference call are made only as of the date of today's conference call. Management will also be discussing non-GAAP information during this call. In compliance with Regulation G, reconciliations of this non-GAAP information to GAAP measurements are included in today's news announcement. The company does not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements, reflective of changes and circumstances.

In addition, given Nexstar's announcement on July 21, 2011, that the company's Board of Directors decided to explore and evaluate strategic alternatives intended to maximize shareholder value, including a possible sale of the company, Nexstar does not intend to disclose developments with respect to this strategic review progress, until such time as the board has approved a transaction or otherwise deems disclosure appropriate. As such, management will not be making comments on this topic today.

At this time, I'd like to turn the conference over to your host, Nexstar President and CEO, Perry Sook. Please go ahead.

Perry A. Sook

Thank you, Morrissey, and good morning, everyone. Thank you, all, for joining us to review Nexstar's 2012 First Quarter Results. Tom Carter is here with me on the call today.

2012 is off to an excellent start for Nexstar with another record quarter, led by robust growth in all of our financial and operating metrics. Nexstar generated record first quarter net revenue, and with the operating leverage of our model, the revenue increase resulted in our highest-ever, first quarter broadcast cash flow, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow.

Our 19.6% rise in first quarter net revenue was highlighted by 7.8% growth in our core and a 70% rise in our retrans revenue. It's evident how our operating efficiencies are translating into this solid revenue growth, turning it into cash flow as our EBITDA margins rose to 34.2% from 28.6% in the year-ago period, and if you look back to the first quarter of 2010, our margin was 30.4%. So 34.2%, we feel, in Q1 '12, compares impressively.

Overall, 2012 will be a watershed year for the company, as the improving ad environment combined with a substantial increase in our retransmission revenue growth rates continue double-digit growth from our e-Media operations and the benefit of what are projected to be record political revenues, all will drive record top line revenue and bottom line profitability for the company.

In addition, we managed the company, as you know, for free cash flow. Tom and his team have remained active in further reengineering and delevering the balance sheet. During the first quarter, we repaid approximately $18 million in borrowings and most recently announced additional plans to strengthen our capital structure. Tom will go over those activities in just a few moments.

Next, our generated total first quarter net revenue of $83.6 million, which as I mentioned is 19.6% rise from the year-ago period, with the increase being broad-based with strong growth in local, national, political, retrans, e-Media and our revenue from management fees. Nexstar's continued leadership in new business development resulted in a 7.8% rise in first quarter local and national revenue, inclusive of 5% increase in local and 15.6% rise in national spot revenue.

2012 first quarter marks our 10th consecutive quarter of core television advertising revenue growth, and Nexstar's sixth quarterly sequential increase in our core revenue growth rate. While we look forward to the benefit of growing political advertising activity throughout 2012, Nexstar's gross revenue growth in the first quarter, even excluding political, was a robust 16.3% that included a 9% rise in automotive category spending.

In addition to strengthened core advertising activity, Nexstar's record first quarter revenue EBITDA and free cash flow highlight continued growth in every one of our non-television advertising revenue sources. Our Q1 core TV ad revenue growth was complemented by the 70.2% rise in retransmission fee revenue, 12% -- 12.5% increase in e-Media revenue and a $1.5 million improvement in our management agreement payments related to the final payment from the Four Points management agreement. As we discussed in the last call, with the renewal of more than 130 retransmission consent agreements at the end of 2011, we project very significant revenue growth from this source throughout the year.

In total, the higher-margin, non-core revenue streams grew by 62.3% year-over-year and accounted for 24.6% of our 2012 first quarter net revenue compared with 18.1% in the comparable year-ago period. And with the exception of the management fee, we'll see continued growth from these sources throughout the remaining quarters of 2012.

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