LIN had double-digit growth in Q3 and expects more of the same for Q4


Q3 revenues were a little below analysts’ expectations for LIN Media, but still strong with a gain of 27% to $103.6 million. The company says Q4 revenues should be up 16-22%, although current pacings are ahead of that.

November and December are pacing up in the upper teens, CEO Vince Sadusky told analysts in his conference call Q&A session. “Now again, as I mentioned, we don’t think that’s indicative of how it will shake out for the full quarter, given the timing of when insertion orders are coming on the books,” he cautioned. In other words, business is returning to more normal practices, with ad buys no longer being placed so close to air date as was seen during the recession.

As was seen with other TV groups, national continues to show stronger growth than local. Excluding political, national was up 22% at LIN in Q3 to $29.4 million, while local was up 8.2% to $55.5 million. Political more than quadrupled from $3 million a year ago to $12.5 million.

Scott Blumenthal, Executive Vice President – Television, detailed for the analysts just how strong the automotive rebound has been. Auto was up 41% in Q3, with the domestic nameplates up 41%, foreign up 51% and local dealer advertising up 38%. But he noted that the business improvement is not just automotive, but most other categories as well, except for those that run counter to the recovery, such as direct response.

CFO Rich Schmaeling noted that broadcast cash flow was up 58% in Q3 to $38.8 million. With Q4 revenues expected to be up 16-22%, the CFO said expenses are projected to rise only 9-14%. Operating expenses were up 16% in Q3, due in part to the acquisition of RMM in October 2009, but also because of commissions and such associated with higher ad sales.

On the programming side, Sadusky is pleased with the decision to produce local lifestyle programs in nine markets. He said all nine have grown audience share since their launch. Specifically, he noted that “Living with Amy” WLUK-TV (Fox) Green Bay is the most-watched show in its time slot, outperforming top syndicated fare on competing stations in the key 18-49 and 25-54 adult and women demos.