Wednesday, May 02, 2007

NAA, ABC Report Newspaper Circ Slide

NAA, ABC Report Newspaper Circ Slide
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
By Chandra Johnson-Greene

According to the Newspaper Association of America’s Fas-Fax analysis of circ data for the six-month period ending March 31, the average daily circ for the 745 newspapers reporting for comparable periods was 44.9 million, a decrease of 2.1 percent over the same period a year ago.

On Sunday, the average circ for the 601 newspapers reporting was 48.1 million, a decrease of 3.1 percent over the same period a year ago.

The New York Times lost daily circ and is down 1.9 percent to 1.1 million, while its Sunday edition fell 3.3 percent to 1.6 million. Both USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, both reported small increases, with +0.2 percent (2.2 million) for the former and +0.6 percent (2 million) for the latter.

“The latest ABC circulation figures are in range with what we expected,” stated NAA president/CEO John F. Sturm.

Sturm says the losses are due to publishers moving away from “short-term circulation sales programs toward longer-term marketing initiatives that deliver the most value and make economic sense.”

Sturn’s statement is confirmed by the NAA’s 2007 “Circulation Facts, Figures & Logic” study of newspaper and circ marketing practices, which was released in conjunction with the Fas-Fax analysis.

The study found that newspapers are retaining subscribers in greater numbers, with subscriber churn down to 36.5 percent in 2006, compared with 42.1 percent in 2004 and 54.5 in 2000.

The only newspapers that seem to be immune to the current circ trends are the New York tabloids.

Weekday circ for the New York Post rose 7.6 percent for the six months ending March 31 while the Daily News saw a 1.4 percent gain, according to ABC.

The Post’s Sunday paper rose 6.2 percent to 439,202 while the News still leads Sunday circ despite a 2.8 percent decline.

New York magazine wins 5 awards

New York magazine wins 5 awards

New York magazine won five National Magazine Awards on Tuesday night, clinching more than any other title. National Geographic won the prize for overall excellence in the largest circulation category.

Esquire magazine was nominated for seven prizes but wound up winning just one, for reporting, for an article by C.J. Chivers about a three-day siege of a school by Chechen terrorists in the Russian town of Beslan.

The awards were announced Tuesday night by the American Society of Magazine Editors, an industry association.

The other winners for general excellence included Rolling Stone in the 1 million to 2 million circulation category; Wired in the category of circulation between 500,000 and 1 million; New York for 250,000 to 500,000; and Foreign Policy for 100,000 to 250,000. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists won in the smallest category, under 100,000 circulation.

Winners of other prizes included Glamour magazine for personal service; O, The Oprah Magazine for leisure interests; GQ for feature writing; The Georgia Review for essays; and The Nation for reviews and criticism. Vanity Fair won awards for public interest as well as columns and commentary.

In addition to general excellence and profile writing, New York magazine also won for best magazine section, design, and best interactive feature. McSweeney's won for fiction.

Time Warner Profit Falls Less Than Estimates on Cable

Time Warner Profit Falls Less Than Estimates on Cable (Update5)
By Cecile Daurat

May 2 (Bloomberg) -- Time Warner Inc., the world's largest media company, raised its 2007 forecast after surging cable- television earnings helped first-quarter profit beat analysts' estimates.

Net income declined 18 percent to $1.2 billion, or 31 cents a share, from $1.46 billion, or 32 cents, a year earlier, New- York based Time Warner said today in a statement. Sales rose 9.2 percent to $11.2 billion.

Profit was dragged down by a 27 percent decline at the film division, which failed to produce a hit to beat last year's ``Harry Potter'' DVD release. Cable profit rose 54 percent after the purchase of Adelphia Communications Corp. AOL earnings gained 27 percent as advertising revenue increased, a sign that Chief Executive Officer Richard Parsons may be succeeding in his effort to revive the Internet unit.

``The key takeaway is the company seems to be on the right track,'' said Tuna Amobi, an equity analyst at Standard & Poor's. ``The highlights of the quarter were the cable unit and AOL.''

Excluding one-time items, profit of 22 cents beat the 21- cent average of 17 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Time Warner raised its 2007 forecast for earnings before one-time items to $1.05 a share, from $1 on Jan. 31. Analysts expected 99 cents on average, based on 23 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Earnings on that basis were 81 cents in 2006.

Shares of Time Warner, which also owns CNN and Fortune magazine, rose 62 cents, or 3 percent, to $21.21 at 1:16 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They had fallen 5.5 percent this year before today. Time Warner Cable Inc. rose 75 cents to $36.97.

Phone, Web Service

Earnings were buoyed by a $670 million gain on the sale of AOL's Web access division in Germany and $146 million from investments related to cable assets in Kansas City, Missouri. Excluding one-time items, profit a year ago was 26 cents a share.

Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S. cable company, began trading publicly in January as part of the parent company's purchase of cable franchises from bankrupt Adelphia.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based cable division, 84 percent owned by Time Warner, benefited from demand for packages of phone, digital cable and Internet services.

Revenue rose 61 percent to $3.85 billion, making it the fastest-growing Time Warner unit for the 14th straight quarter.

``We like the fact that with our own currency we can continue to participate in the inevitable consolidation in the cable space,'' Parsons said on a conference call.

AOL Gains

Cablevision Systems Corp. today agreed to be taken private by the Dolan family for $10.6 billion in cash, capping their two-year effort to buy the company.

``Our position for many years has been that if the Dolans were ever to decide to part with that business, we would be on their list of people to talk to,'' Parsons said.

AOL profit rose to $542 million as ad revenue gained 40 percent. The growth in ad sales beat the 28 percent estimate by Spencer Wang, an analyst at Bear Stearns Cos. in New York.

Parsons, 59, hired TV veteran Randy Falco in November to run AOL and accelerate ad sales growth. He reiterated today that AOL's ad revenue will rise faster than the U.S. market this year.

``Our confidence in AOL's strategy is higher than ever,'' Parsons said. ``It's going very well so far.''

Sales dropped 25 percent after AOL started offering its e- mail and software for free to broadband users last year to attract Web surfers and advertisers. The Web access division lost 1.2 million subscribers in the quarter.

Harry Potter

Profit at the film division fell to $332 million. Revenue declined 1.3 percent to $2.7 billion.

Earnings will fall in the first half and rise ``sharply'' in the second half, Parsons said. Warner Bros. will release ``Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'' in theaters in July.

First-quarter DVD sales of ``The Departed'' and ``Happy Feet,'' at $132 million and $198 million, respectively, failed to match the $209 million and $290 million turned in last year by the ``Wedding Crashers'' and ``Harry Potter,'' according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analyst Anthony Noto.

The unexpected theatrical success of ``300,'' an epic about Spartan warriors battling a larger Persian army, wasn't enough to lift earnings. The film took in $207 million in North American box office receipts, according to Box Office Mojo.

Publishing Cuts

At the cable-networks unit, including HBO, CNN and TNT, operating profit rose 6 percent to $937 million.

Publishing profit fell 28 percent to $84 million.

The unit cut 290 jobs in January, or 2.8 percent its workforce, to reduce expenses. The publisher of People and In Style eliminated 600 positions in 2006 as advertising sales declined. The unit also closed Life magazine, less than three years after restarting the title as a weekly.

Fortune's ad sales fell 5.4 percent in the first quarter, according to data from Publishers Information Bureau. Sports Illustrated, People and In Style gained 6.7 percent, 8.2 percent and 1.5 percent respectively in the period.

(For a replay of Time Warner's conference call visit .)

P&G Will Boost Marketing Spending for Fiscal '08

P&G Will Boost Marketing Spending for Fiscal '08
Emphasis Will Be on 'Nonmeasured Media' but TV Still a Priority Investment
By Jack Neff

Published: May 01, 2007

BATAVIA, Ohio ( -- Procter & Gamble Co. will spend heavily on marketing for its year starting July 1 -- possibly at the expense of margin goals -- as it makes boosting top-line growth a priority, executives said today.

Despite an emphasis in 'nonmeasured media' as an area P&G will increase spending, TV still remains 'a hell of an efficient investment.'

The comments came as P&G issued quarterly results that, while meeting or exceeding its stated goals, failed to impress the market. P&G shares were down 2.2% to $62.95 today. Morgan Stanley analyst Bill Pecoriello said in a research note that P&G's trade-up of consumers to higher-priced items and its margins both were lower than he had expected.

Maintaining sales growth
Speaking on a conference call for analysts, Chief Financial Officer Clayton Daley said, "For fiscal-year 2008, the priority for the company is to sustain strong sales growth. As such, we plan to invest in our leading brand equities. We plan to launch a strong initiative program."

Later, Mr. Daley made it clear P&G will be willing to sacrifice margin improvements if required for the sake of top-line growth. He said if P&G can meet its double-digit earnings-per-share growth goal "with more sales growth and less margin expansion, that's OK. ... I don't want to imply that we are going to do anything to try to hold back sales growth."

While P&G may be looking to spend more aggressively in fiscal 2008, it appears to be pulling back on measured media right now in what Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley termed a shift toward the internet and "nonmeasured media."

Shifting mix
"If you step back and look at our [marketing] mix across most of the major brands, it's clearly shifting, and it's shifting from measured media to in-store, to the internet and to trial activity," Mr. Lafley said. The latter he didn't define precisely, though he gave Gillette sampling programs, which include distribution of free razors by mail, as one example. On Gillette Fusion razors, he said, "you are going to see ... more sampling, because we still have relatively low trial rates."

Though it's impossible to measure how much P&G is spending in-store, as much of it is accounted for as deductions against net sales, data from TNS Media Intelligence do appear to indicate a pullback in measured media spending in its fiscal first quarter. P&G spent $459.9 million in January and February according to TNS, excluding newspaper inserts, a run rate that, if sustained over a full year, would trim P&G's measured spending 17.5% in 2007.

But the proportion P&G spent on TV in January and February -- 70.4% -- is in line with proportions the company has had for years and last year's 69.9%. P&G's spending on internet display ads inched up to 2.1% of its outlay in the first two months of 2007 vs. 1.6% last year.

Efficiency in TV
"We are still investing a lot in television, because, especially in developing markets, it's a hell of an efficient investment," Mr. Lafley said.

Overall, he said P&G ad spending as a percent of sales was "about 10%" in the fiscal third quarter, about where it was last year.

The talk comes after two consecutive years in which P&G has trimmed reported advertising spending as a share of sales, which peaked at 10.7% in 2004 and slid to 9.9% of sales last fiscal year.

It's not clear where that number will end up in fiscal 2007, as P&G officials have declined to provide specifics and won't report the number until after the fiscal year closes. But Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel and Mr. Lafley have said in investor presentations late last year that they were more concerned with advertising effectiveness and brand equity than with ad-spending-to-sales ratios. P&G's trims in ad-spending ratios also have come as rising raw-material costs have pressured margins in recent years.

P&G reported sales up 8% to $18.7 billion, up 6% organically, or excluding acquisitions, divestitures and currency effects. Earnings per share rose 17% to 74 cents. Both numbers were helped by a weakening dollar, which added two percentage points to sales, and by a relatively weak year-ago performance, when P&G's top line and profits were pressured by consolidation of distributors for newly acquired Gillette and apparently temporary weakness in Russia and China.

Beauty biz not so pretty
While the fabric and home-care business led growth, with sales up 12% (10% organically) the beauty business trailed the company as a whole and rival L'Oreal with organic sales growth of 5%.

P&G also reported relatively weak results in three more areas. Gillette's blades and razor business had only 4% organic-sales growth, despite comparison to a year-ago period hurt by sales lost as distributors were consolidated in China and despite much stronger growth reported last week by rival Energizer Holdings' Schick. Organic sales for the Braun and Duracell businesses, acquired along with Gillette in October 2005, were flat. And sales for the pet food, snack and coffee business declined 1%, hurt by the Iams and Eukanuba pet-food recall, whose impact P&G declined to specify.

Toothpaste spending pays off
One area where P&G ad spending has been unrestrained -- U.S. toothpaste -- appears to be seeing some strong results, and Mr. Lafley claimed P&G has taken broad market leadership in the U.S. toothpaste market.

He noted that in 1998, the first full year after Colgate Total was launched in the U.S., Colgate had a 27% toothpaste while P&G had a 25%-plus share. Last quarter, he said P&G had a 38% in all outlets, including Wal-Mart, club and dollar stores not measured by syndicated services, compared to 32% for Colgate, he said.

"There is plenty of room," he said, "for our principal competitor to grow and for us to grow in the oral-care business."