Gray Television, Inc. (GTN)

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Gray Television (GTN)

Q4 2010 Earnings Call

March 01, 2011 11:00 am ET

Executives

Robert Prather - President, Chief Operating Officer, Director and Member of Executive Committee

Hilton Howell - Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Member of Executive Committee

James Ryan - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Analysts

Michael McCaffrey - Shankman Capital

Charles Abry - Oppenheimer

Aaron Watts - Deutsche Bank

Marci Ryvicker - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC

Bishop Cheen - Wachovia

Presentation

Operator

Good day, everyone, welcome to the Gray Television’s Fourth Quarter 2010 and Year-to-Date Earnings Release Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] For opening remarks and introductions, I'd like to turn the call over to Mr. Hilton Howell, CEO and Vice Chairman of Gray Television Inc. Please go ahead, sir.

Hilton Howell

Thank you very much, operator, and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us to review Gray's 2010 Fourth Quarter and Year-to-Date Results. Quite simply, it was a blowout quarter; a quarter for the record books. Revenues for the fourth quarter increased 48% to a new record for Gray of $114.6 million. Revenues for the year grew by 28%, also a new record for Gray of $346.5 million. These increases in revenue, coupled with excellent expense control, resulted in net income of $21.9 million for the quarter or $0.35 per share and net income of $23.2 million for the year or $0.16 per share. These outstanding results allowed us to pay down $50.2 million of our debt by year-end.

Obviously, this political season was very good for Gray Television because we hit an all-time record in political advertising, even eclipsing prior presidential election cycles of $57.6 million. We believe that these results portend extremely well for Gray in the next political cycle of 2012. It is widely reported that President Obama will likely raise and spend over $1 billion on his re-election campaign. And with the Republican victories of 2010, we anticipate that whoever the Republican challenger may be, he or she will be able to match the President's fund-raising prowess.

Additionally, we're already seeing important senatorial campaigns gearing up in several of our key states, all of which we believe sets Gray up for another record year in 2012. So that leaves us 2011. In this morning's press release, Jim Ryan has provided our best effort at indicating where we see next quarter coming out, and we may have some more thoughts on that later in his comments. From my point of view, I see 2011 as a typically off year in the broadcast cycle, but a relatively favorable one. Our regional vice presidents and station managers, while still loaded to stick their necks out too far in predicting their performance, are relatively bullish on the advertising outlook for 2011, especially with regard to the local advertising market.

Something else that is very positive for Gray. As a consequence of our highly successful 2010, we had been able to advance our local high-definition transitions, and it has also allowed us to reinvest more in our local news brands. Of note, KOLN, our CBS affiliate in Lincoln, Nebraska, has added a 4:00 p.m. public affairs show with simultaneous live online chat with local newsmakers, and it has launched a half-hour high school sports show at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Additionally, KOLN has added a 9:00 p.m. newscast on our digital set channel to serve Grand Island, Nebraska. This has paid or paid off well for KOLN, as it has won more first-place awards from the Associated Press than any other station in the states of Nebraska, South Dakota or North Dakota combined.

Additionally, KAKE, our ABC affiliate in Wichita, Kansas, launched on January 31 of this year, the market's very first Monday-through-Friday 4:30 a.m. newscast, an expanded edition of Good Morning Kansas, the number one morning show in Wichita. Th continued investments in our already powerful local news brands, we believe will position our TV group well to repeat the kind of quarter and year we have just reported in the future.

Bob, do you have some comments? Bob?

Robert Prather

I know everyone read our news release. We're very happy with the year. I think it's a tribute to our management, our GMs and our people out in the field and also a tribute to our group of stations, which I think came through the recession better than most of the markets around the country. And I think our strategy of having the major university town and state capitals in our markets has definitely paid off for us, but we're very happy that TV bounced back, and I think a lot stronger than Wall Street thought and frankly, probably than most of us thought. I think 2009 was a dreadful year for everybody and 2010, we're very happy to have an all-time record.

But '11's here and 2010's in the past, so we got to look forward. Some of the things that we're working very hard on Hilton had mention briefly, but local HD, I think is extremely important. We'll have most of our stations capable of doing local HD news by the end of the year. We're also, at the same time, putting in studio automation in most of these deals, which will enable us to be much more efficient in operating our master control in our studios. We think we're ahead in the industry in this aspect and very proud of our operations that we've got up and going so far. But local HD is extremely important.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com