When radio ownership groups begin announcing their fourth quarter earnings reports in full force next week, experts are not expecting the best of news or a rosy outlook for the future. "Overall, we believe most companies will deliver fourth-quarter results ... below consensus estimates. Moreover, we expect few companies to provide full-year guidance, given the current weak outlook for radio overall," wrote analyst Jason Helfstein in a research note.
According to recent numbers from the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), overall ad revenue for last year stayed flat. Local advertising was up one percent while national advertising fell two percent. However in the fourth quarter, advertising dropped three percent. Local ad dollars fell just one percent, while national advertising took a nine percent hit.
Reuters reports that analysts are predicting revenue increases in the low single digits for 2006, with the oft-said forecasting of listeners turning to the myriad of other listening options out there (Internet, satellite, iPods, etc.). Clear Channel's numbers will be closely watched next week, as analyst David Bank points out the company's "Less is More" initiative "will [mark its first] anniversary and is expected to comp against some lower numbers."