Nexstar reported higher first-quarter profits revenue with the acquisition of Tribune Media included in this year’s results.
Net income increased 177% to $157.7 million, or $3.43 per share, from $56.9 million, or $1.20 a share, a year ago.
Revenue rose 74% to $1.09 billion.
The company said it began to feel the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. During the last three weeks of the first quarter and into the quarter, there was a significant decline in commercial advertising revenue, according to CEO Perry Sook.
“Given our outperformance in the first quarter, Nexstar was on well on track to meet our 2020/2021 pro forma average annual free cash flow guidance of $1.175 billion,” Sook said. “However, the precise depth and duration of COVID-19’s impact on our operations is uncertain as conditions continue to evolve. As a result, and notwithstanding the revenue visibility afforded by our distribution agreements and cash distribution from our TV Food Network ownership stake, we are withdrawing our free cash flow guidance for the 2020/2021 cycle at this time.”
Ad revenue was up 86% to $472.7 million, including $54 million in additional political advertising. Distribution revenue was up 75% to $550 million.
“Against the challenging economic environment driven by the onset in March of COVID-19, Nexstar delivered record first quarter operating results with net revenue, profitability, and cash flow metrics all exceeding consensus expectations,” said Sook.
“Nexstar’s business is well-positioned to withstand impacts related to the near-term decline in core advertising, which, given our revenue diversification initiatives of the last decade now represents about 40% of our total annual revenue in an election year. As such, we expect to be free cash flow positive in every quarter of 2020 and are confident in our liquidity position and ability to service our debt through these challenging times and do not anticipate any liquidity or covenant issues as we move through 2020,” Sook said.
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