Univision Communications Third-Quarter Revenue, Operating Profit Rise

UPDATED: The Spanish-language media giant, led by CEO Randy Falco, also discusses the effect of the recent departure of radio host Piolin and what would happen if Mexico failed to qualify for the soccer World Cup.

Univision Communications on Thursday reported a lower third-quarter earnings, but higher adjusted operating income and a double-digit revenue gain.

The Spanish-language media giant's loss of $15.9 million meant a swing from a year-ago profit of $10.6 million amid higher expenses. Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization, another profitability metric, rose 9.2 percent to $301.8 million though.

Revenue rose 10.1 percent to $692.7 million. TV revenue rose, digital revenue dropped, while radio revenue was roughly unchanged year-over-year.

Said president and CEO Randy Falco: "We continued to drive growth in the third quarter. Today Univision Communications is the heartbeat of Hispanic America because of our ability to understand, connect and engage with our audiences. The value in this has been recognized by our
partners, most recently in our expanded distribution agreement with Time Warner Cable." 

He added: "We have gotten to where we are because of our drive to expand and foster the spirit of innovation in everything we do, and this
will be further evidenced on Monday when Fusion, the English-language news network we are launching in partnership with ABC, broadcasts for the first time."

And Falco said: "On the ratings front, the Univision network continued to disrupt the media landscape in the quarter by securing the number one spot in primetime among adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 during the July sweep period, as well as ranking first in primetime among adults 18-49 on more nights and weeks during the entire 2012/2013 season than ever before."

Asked during a conference call about nw competition for Univision, Falco said new Spanish-language networks have been launched, but no real competitor has managed to scale up. And he said the audience trust Univision enjoys is "very difficult to duplicate."

Asked about the 2014 soccer World Cup in Brazil and whether a potential failure by Mexico's national team to qualify would hurt the company, management said World Cup advertising is largely sold at this point. But a Cup without Mexico would affect audience guarantees as Mexico games are the most popular ones on Univision. Mexico faces New Zealand in two games in November to decide which of the two countries will go to the World Cup.

Management on Thursday also said that the recent departure of former Univision radio talk star Piolin, who later signed a deal with Sirius XM Radio, had led to some ad cancelations that dampened radio revenue. 

Asked about fourth-quarter ad trends, the company said its TV stations are pacing up in the mid to high single digit percentage range, excluding political advertising. Network ads are up in the low teens range, leaving overall TV up in the low double digit range.

Radio is up in the low single digit percentage range, while digital ads are roughly unchanged. Company-wide that means high single digit gains.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai