Univision First-Quarter Earnings Drop

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Randy Falco

The Spanish-language media giant, led by CEO Randy Falco, talked about industry consolidation during an analyst call.

Univision Communications on Thursday posted lower first-quarter earnings.

Univision, which has been planning an IPO, posted a first-quarter profit of $58.1 million, compared with a year-ago profit of $66.7 million. The latest quarter included the $9.5 million after-tax impact of a loss on the extinguishment of debt. 

The Spanish-language media giant, led by CEO Randy Falco, gave no details on the timing of any IPO during an analyst call, but did talk about industry consolidation and its possible participation. Univision CFO Frank Lopez-Balboa told investors that media rivals in the English language market were doing acquisitions for greater scale, something his company already has.

"We have incredible scale, as it is. We will always selectively look at things that makes sense. But what's affecting our market is different than what you see in the English language market, by virtue of our coverage," Lopez-Balboa said. Univision operates such assets as broadcast networks Univision Network and UniMas, formerly Telefutura, as well as cable channel Galavision and sports network Univision Deportes.

Lopez-Balboa also addressed the advertising drop Univision recorded during the latest quarter, which he argued reflected industry trends. "The overall advertising market is weak, you've heard that from most people in the industry, so it's not a specific thing to us," he said.

During the latest quarter, advertising revenue fell 7.9 percent to $395.3 million, as Univision pointed to softness in ad buys from the auto, consumer products and telecommunications categories. Non-advertising revenue, including carriage fees and content licensing, rose 28.5 percent to $297.3 million.

Quarterly adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA), another profitability metric, declined 8 percent to $272.6 million amid a 5.8 percent drop in the company's media networks unit and a 23.5 percent drop in its radio division.

First-quarter revenue increased 4.9 percent to $692.6 million, or 0.8 percent when adjusting for deals and excluding, for better comparability, the political/advocacy advertising and content licensing revenue in both periods. Univision execs talked up growth in subscriber fees from the distribution of its content, which offset weaker advertising revenues.

Company CEO Randy Falco told analysts that his company was also focusing on diversifying its programming pipeline and expanding its digital footprint. "These strategies are paying off as our estimated monthly reach grew 34 percent and we continue to widen our ratings lead on the Univision network, versus our closest Spanish language competitor," he said, referring to the NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo network, a perennial underdog in the battle for Spanish-language viewers.

Falco added that audience share momentum continues into the May sweeps, ahead of the Upfronts. "Our portfolio is approaching a 65 percent share of Spanish language television viewing," he said of the current second quarter period.

May 11, 12 noon Updated with comments by Univision executives made during an analyst call.

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