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Abruzzese's Stock Is Soaring on Wall Street

Discovery’s ad sales president and B&C Hall of Famer Joe Abruzzese has long been admired on Madison Avenue, not the least of which for being widely known as the best-dressed man in advertising sales. Now, it seems, he’s gaining fans on Wall Street as well.

One of the highlights of Discovery’s fourth-quarter earnings report was a 17% increase in domestic advertising revenue and on the company’s conference call with analysts, a couple of the analysts were impressed with the way Abruzzese and his team were able outperform Discovery’s ratings, and its competition.

“I’d love to hear more about your sales effort and what Joe Abruzzese is doing because…there’s really a multi-quarter outperformance story,” said Anthony DiClemente of Barclays Capital. “What’s the magic that Joe’s adding to the mix here?”

Discovery CEO David Zaslav noted that some of the company’s networks — particularly some of the smaller ones — were performing well. But he added that Abruzzese was a “master of managing inventory and at motivating a great sales team.”

Some of those newer channels had been getting very low ad rates and “Joe has been very aggressive about looking at our CPMs [the price charged per thousand viewers]  because in the long run, the CPMs are…what’s really going to drive us,” Zaslav said.

He added that “also it’s a good inventory management by Joe, and he’s moved aggressively in scatter early. He did very good job with the upfront, which I think was good for everybody. But overall, I think it’s mostly Joe doing a good job and our channels having momentum.”