TV Station Group Tegna Warns of "Uncertain" Ad Impact of Virus Crisis

Tegna executive David Dave Lougee - Getty H 2016
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"We continue to carefully monitor business impacts and to be diligent in implementing cost saving measures to reduce expenses and reducing non-critical capital expenditures," the company says.

TV station group Tegna on Monday said that "the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with regard to the broader advertising industry, remains uncertain" and suspended its full-year 2020 guidance.

"We continue to carefully monitor business impacts and to be diligent in implementing cost saving measures to reduce expenses and reducing non-critical capital expenditures," the company, which has 62 stations in 51 markets and reaches 39 percent of all U.S. households, also said. "We continue to implement prudent capital structure management and focus on managing our costs."

About its financial state, Tegna said it ended March with $35 million in cash and had unused capacity under a revolving credit facility of more than $700 million. "Management and the board have successfully managed through recessionary operating environments in the past, and we are confident that we are well equipped to successfully navigate the challenges that will come with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations, financial condition and liquidity," it said.

Tegna also unveiled preliminary financial results for the first quarter, saying it "expects to achieve previously issued guidance for all first-quarter metrics."

Quarterly revenue is expected to rise 32 percent to $684 million, "driven by acquisitions and continued growth in subscription revenue and political advertising spending." 

Estimated first-quarter earnings are expected to hit $86 million, up 17 percent, and earnings per share are expected to come in at 39 cents, up 15 percent. 

“Following a strong first quarter, in which Tegna achieved all of our previous guidance, Tegna is managing through today’s unprecedented circumstances — and is well positioned to continue to deliver long-term value to Tegna shareholders," said Dave Lougee, president and CEO. "We are focused on protecting our employees, supporting our customers and serving our communities. Tegna is experiencing a significant increase in audiences on all of our platforms, highlighting the crucial role our stations play by delivering award-winning local journalism, which builds trust and loyalty among viewers."