Thursday, February 7, 2013

More earnings: McClatchy reports loss in Q4; print ad revenues fall, though digital-only revenue up nearly 15%

It's earnings season and another time for newspapers to report their bleak results. For McClatchy that means reporting that it suffered a net loss in the final quarter of 2012 of $30.0 million, including a $60.0 million after-tax loss on debt refinancing. On the bright side, total digital advertising revenue grew 3.5 percent in Q4, with digital-only advertising revenues up 14.9 percent over 2011.

"Our unrelenting focus on growing our digital business continues to be rewarded. Total digital advertising revenues in the fourth quarter of 2012 were up 3.5% on a 13-week basis," Pat Talamantes, McClatchy's President and CEO, said. "Our digital traffic also grew in the quarter with daily average local unique visitors to our websites and mobile content up 3.4% compared to the same quarter of 2011. Digital-only revenues were up double digits for every quarter in 2012 with the fourth quarter up 14.9%. Digital advertising now represents 20.2% of McClatchy's total advertising revenues compared to 18.5% in 2011. McClatchy's digital advertising revenues reached a record high in 2012 of $197.0 million on a 52-week basis."

The thing that struck me while looking at the numbers was that ad revenue fell in Q4 in every market served by McClatchy, though only California, home to the Sacramento Bee, ended the year in the red.

Because of this, 2013 may end up being a make or break year for the newspaper publisher, and Q1 results will show whether they can stem their ad revenue losses going forward.