Clear Channel Parent Posts Improved Third-Quarter Results

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CC Media Holdings, the parent company of radio giant Clear Channel Communications, on Friday reported slightly higher first-quarter revenue and a narrowed loss.

The company’s revenue rose 2 percent to $1.59 billion. Media and entertainment revenue grew  1 percent driven by 3 percent growth in radio revenue amid increased national advertising, which posted a 7 percent jump, as well as digital radio services and the iHeartRadio Music Festival.

CC Media's loss of $39 million was down from a year-ago loss of $67 million thanks to the higher revenue and lower depreciation and amortization expenses. Operating income before depreciation, amortization and non-cash compensation expense, a metric that focuses mainly on the results from operations, was up minimally from $479 million to $480 million.

“We are continuing to deliver solid results in a difficult economy, while investing in our digital future and growing the value we provide to our marketing partners with bold, new offerings across multiple platforms," said CEO Bob Pittman said. “Increased revenues from major national advertisers drove improved performance at media & entertainment in the quarter. The successful return of the iHeartRadio Music Festival drew record audiences and attracted a diverse array of major brand sponsors."

Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker called the financials "a bit messy" due to various special items and circumstances. "Radio revenue was up 3 percent, but this includes a lot of different pieces, so we are unsure as to how the true radio ad sales did in the quarter ," she said.

On an earnings conference call, management lauded the continued growth of the listenership for digital radio offer iHeartRadio. Total listening hours are up over 100 percent, but 95 percent of the company's listening continues to happen on traditional radio, they said.

"Building on its groundbreaking agreement earlier this year with Big Machine Label Group, over the past two months, the company signed partnerships with two more independent record labels, Glassnote Entertainment Group and Naxos, highlighting that market-based solutions are the right business model to enhance the future growth of digital radio and benefit both artists and listeners," CC Media also said.

On the call, the company said it keeps talking to labels, but provided no further details.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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