Emmis Communications Corporation (EMMS)

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EMMIS Communications Corporation (EMMS)

F3Q07 Earnings Call

January 9, 2008 8:30 am ET


Jeffrey H. Smulyan - Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Patrick Walsh – Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer


Victor Miller – Bear Stearns & Co.

Lee Westerfield – BMO Capital Market

Jonathan Jacoby – Banc of America Securities

Marci Ryvicker – Wachovia Securities

James Dix – Deutsche Bank



Welcome to EMMIS third quarter earnings call. Your lines will be on a listen only mode until the question and answer segment of the call today. This call is being recorded, if you do have any objections you may disconnect at this time. I would now like to turn the call over to Kate at EMMIS Communications. Thank you Ma’am, you may begin.

Kate – Manager of Finance and Investor Relations

Thanks Hope, good morning and thank you for joining us today for EMMIS Communications conference call regarding third quarter earnings. I want to extend a special welcome to all EMMIS employees who are joining us and listening in this morning, and those of you listening in on our website www.EMMIS.com. We will begin in just a moment with opening comments from our chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan and Pat Walsh, CFO. After their opening comments our conference call moderator will come back on the line to instruct you on how to submit questions.

As many of you know, Rick Cummings, President of EMMIS Radio usually joins our calls and help answer your questions. He isn’t with us today because his mother passed away, and our thoughts are with Rick and his family.

Playback of the call will be available for the next week by dialing 203-369-3135 the conference call may include forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Please refer to EMMIS’ public filing with the SEC for more information on the various risks and uncertainties, additional disclosures, related to non GAAP financial measures can be found under the investors tab of our website at www.EMMIS.com.

Jeffrey H. Smulyan

I along with Kate want to extend our condolences to Rick and his family. For that reason, since we have a funeral to attend we’re probably going to keep today’s call shorter than normal.

We are always viewed as the canary in the coal mine and I was driving in this morning thinking well maybe this is the perspective from the very bottom of the shaft. But having said that, there is been so much written about the challenging times that maybe I am surprisingly upbeat today. I am upbeat for a few reasons. As we enter a new year we see some very encouraging things with EMMIS. We know that the backdrop of industry performance have not been good and yet we think 2008 will be a better year for the industry. We think specifically it will be better for us in this quarter our markets on a local basis and an overall basis, with the exception of KMDN which we discussed, our performance has beaten our markets.

We’ve especially seen a really remarkable turnaround in our sales effort in New York and I want to commend Alex Cameron and her team for the job they have done in turning around their sales performance in New York it’s really been very encouraging. Beyond that we feel good about ratings we had our first rounds of ratings yesterday in 1834 HOT went back to number one and in 2554 KISS again is one of the top four players. We feel very, very good about the first round of ratings. We feel strategically the company is in good shape, better shape than it’s been in a while from a sales standpoint and we think coming back on a ratings stance.

Beyond that there are some other big highlights, our publishing group has continued to do very well, again beating expectations and consistently putting out not only great product but very good sales and SOI results. Our international group has had a remarkable quarter and that’s a continuation of what we’ve done. 30% overall up [Schlagger] our network in Hungary which had its best ratings ever and now doubled its nearest national competitor is up 20%, our properties in Belgium are up 20%, we are up over 30% in Slovakia and up over 100% in Bulgaria, which is our newest international outpost, so we feel very good there.

We enter 2008 with an interactive group which most people believe is the most adept in our industry and we will make some major announcement about clients that we will be bringing on and the ground breaking efforts that our interactive group have created we think justify the confidence and the allocation of resources that we’ve committed to them in the last few years.

So from a company standpoint I am encouraged, I know this is the worst point in the history of the industry. I am reminded of my friend Jim Boyle who always says, “Have you hit the bottom?” I think this is probably the bottom. There is an invigoration in our industry that I want to comment on. So much has been written about PPM and the questions, and we’ve made our position known. But, I think there is something that no one has focused on, we had a radio station, not ours a competitors, did a 6 million cume in New York city, Jerry Lee station had a gigantic cume in Philadelphia, all of us are seeing remarkable new listeners that nobody thought we had. I am going to quote David Field, I think David sums up the whole PPM debate, “If the New York Times announced that they had 3 million more readers in NY City that they have just found we would be having a parade down 5th avenue. We have announced 4 to 5 million more cumulative listeners in New York City through PPM and everybody is saying, ‘Well radio it’s really got trouble.’” It sort of if times announce with the new cume readers pages per reader was down five pages but the cume was way up, everyone would focus on the cume story. Yes time spent listening is down, but the cume story demonstrates the remarkable ability of this industry to reach people where they live and I think we’ve lost that and I think you’re going to see this year finally, a reinvigorated industry highlighting that point. I also think as an industry that you’re going to see a major national sales effort on behalf of this industry that will be unprescident and I think finally, we’ll starting moving the needle back to a positive point. While I know everybody is beaten up on radio, our company and everybody else. I think 2008 really has a chance to be a better year.

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