CEO Jeff Smulyan sounded more optimistic than he has in many months regarding radio revenue. Not only was Emmis’ recent quarter (September, October, and November) up nearly 5%, the months ahead are looking strong as well. On a Thursday morning earnings call Smulyan said revenue grew in all three months of its third quarter and in all markets.
Smulyan said with this quarter’s strong performance, Emmis is now outperforming its markets through the first nine months of this fiscal year, and that’s quite an achievement. “Political revenues certainly helped, but we also saw growth in our core advertising categories, all of which contributed to Emmis having its strongest quarter in four years. New York and Indianapolis both outperformed their markets and continue to produce strong ratings, which should help sustain Emmis’ revenue growth. That certainly appears to be the case in January and February, where both months are pacing up mid-to-high single digits.” Emmis took in $1.1 million in political revenue in the quarter compared to $200,000 a year ago.
Breaking down the numbers in the quarter, September was up 2%, October was up 11%, and November was up 2%. Health care was the largest category, representing 10% of Emmis’ revenue in the quarter. The automotive, services, and cellular categories were strong while restaurants, beverages, and entertainment were the weakest.
There was a caution sign given by Smulyan after the strong revenue report. He said it’s hard to be spectacularly upbeat about how his quarter bodes for the entire radio industry because radio has had false positives before, but he is encouraged. “Hopefully this might be the year that advertisers see some signs about the industry that are more positive. I’m hopeful.”