Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm live-blogging the Q1 earnings conference call

Following are real-time highlights of Corporate's conference call, now underway with many of these Wall Street media stock analysts, following release of the first-quarter earnings report earlier today. The call started at 10 a.m. ET, and is being webcast to the public in listen-only mode. Directions and playback instructions are here.

10:52. We're done! To recap highlights and low lights: Deal Chicken expanding. Furloughs of 1,000 employees this quarter. USAT a bit more of a drag than other print divisions. And many, many, many, many buzzwords.

10:48. Oy. These Q&A sessions are always nerve wracking: Lots of pressure on management. Still, Dubow and Martore seem a bit more rattled than I've noticed in the past. Wow! Martore has called for one last question -- 10 minutes early! Question: How are things looking in four states -- Florida, Nevada, California and Arizona -- where real estate has been hit hardest? Martore: Still lagging, but better results on retail and real estate. Depends on the state. "Particularly in Arizona we've seen good results there. It's a bit of a mixed bag."

10:46. Question: USAT paid ad page data? Martore: "We probably aren't going to be giving out numbers because they really don't reflect the totality of platforms. Not just a print product. Combination of print, web, mobile, iPad -- a lot of different devices." Dubow: Paid ad pages are not "fully reflective of the opportunity it provides for us."

10:42. Question: Travel's impact on USAT? Seems to have bottomed out, Martore says. "Still clearly an impact." USAT improving vertical on the travel side, she says. Question: Progress on monetization of USAT's iPad? Martore: "They continue to do a good job in attracting advertising to that platform." Dubow: Version 2.0 came out for Apple, and first for Android. Lots of popularity to it. "Very interesting" numbers as we move forward.

10:35. Martore says "ramping up" on Yahoo partnership sales. Question: Did any one component in publishing -- Newsquest, U.S. Community Publishing, USAT -- have a disproportionate role in hurting profits? Martore says USAT may have had a little bit of a bigger role.

10:34. Question from Michael Kapinski. Is branding campaign part of Corporate expenses (which weren't as "light" as he expected)? Martore says, yes, branding has added to Corporate's expenses.

10:33. Answering a question about broadcasting's outlook. Martore says, "we want to be a little bit conservative."

10:31. Dubow and Martore are stumbling; Huber seems to have left them momentarily flummoxed.

10:29. Dubow is dodging question on furloughs. Martore says "about 1,000 folks" are taking furloughs. "That's the extent we're talking across the company." She's smart enough to know that Dubow was prevaricating. Wall Street doesn't like that.

10:27. The Q&A session has begun. First: Craig Huber asks, How's April ad revenues going? And what about furloughs in the current quarter? Martore says expecting revenues to look a bit better in April than they did in first quarter.

10:22. Broadcasting another "real bright spot." Digital segment revenues -- which includes CareerBuilder and PointRoll -- up 12%. Digital now almost 20% of overall revenue. That's a small increase in share; it's been running 18-19% or so.

10:21. She's now talking about newsprint. Pricing getting better.

10:18. Real estate still down with the housing slump. Complete economic recovery depends on stabilized or growing real estate market. Total national advertising was down 11% in the quarter! (Was that domestic print only?) Note: In the statement, I see that Corporate is no longer reporting USA Today's paid advertising page data; Martore once more reduces information she's providing to investors. Bad sign for USAT's current prospects.

10:15. Here's COO Gracia Martore. More reading from a prepared statement. Company was "solidly profitable" despite challenging environment. Note: GCI stock trading for $14.55, down 1.7%, as overall markets swoon.

10:14. Arrgh! Lost my Wi-Fi connection; back on.

10:09. Coupon-related products. Several properties have created social commerce elements. This business is a "great business" for our company. Deal Chicken! Now extending daily deals across the company. Rolling out Deal Chicken to 57 markets by year's end. You first read about that here on Gannett Blog.

10:08. Another reference to a "pipeline." Guess that's the new buzzword.

10:06. He's now talking about the new corporate branding campaign. "We're transforming." Note: first use of that word -- again. Happy to have new chief digital officer and chief marketing officer. Solutions-based selling gaining momentum. Continuing to build pipeline. Lots of "continuing."

10:04. And we're off. Here's CEO Craig Dubow, more or less reading the statement released earlier. As always, the most important part of the call will be the question-and-answer session, which ought to start in about 30 minutes.

9:57 a.m. We're listening to soothing classical music as we wait for the conference to begin. (Guess we're going to need to be soothed.)


  1. Usat is a drag because of all the silly veep and vertical hires asa well as senior management overhead. Time to cut, Gracia.

  2. If that is the case, they should start with the pudding-head who put that mess in place.


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