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Meredith Corporation (NYSE:MDP)

UBS 40th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference Transcript

December 4, 2012 2:30 PM ET

Executives

Stephen Lacy - Chairman and CEO

Joe Ceryanec - Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Chris - UBS

Chris - UBS

Okay. Good afternoon everyone to the Meredith Corp. presentation. Today we are lucky to have joined us Stephen Lacy, the Chairman and CEO; and Joe Ceryanec, the CFO of Meredith. We are going to have some time left over after about a half hour presentation for Q&A, so please be ready with your questions. Stephen?

Stephen Lacy

Thank you very much, [Chris], and good afternoon, everyone. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to be here and share some insight about the Meredith Corporation. The video that you just saw is the light show that’s playing on the front of Saks Fifth Avenue for this holiday season. It was produced by an affiliate of Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, a company that did similar work last year for Saks Fifth Avenue as well.

Before getting started I want to take a moment to remind everyone that this presentation does include certain forward-looking statements. This is simply a reminder of the factors that could impact our business and its results over time.

Here is a quick look at our agenda for this afternoon. I’ll begin with a brief overview of Meredith then discuss our top priorities in our National Media Group. Chief Financial Officer, Joe Ceryanec will speak to our Local Media Group growth initiative and detail our financial strategy.

Here are three important points to remember about Meredith through our discussion this afternoon. First of all, we’ve build a strong media and marketing company with trusted national brands and an unrivaled reach to the female consumer, a leading full-service and global digital marketing agency, and a great group of television stations in attractive local market.

Our connection to the end consumer is growing in every one of our media platform. Our management team has demonstrated ability in operational excellence and value creation overtime and we’re executing a series of growth strategies that we believe will deliver total shareholder return of 10% to 15% annually over the next three-year period.

We’re committed to balancing our portfolio growth with returning cash to shareholders overtime. As an example of this commitment, we paid a dividend for 65 straight years and increase it for the past 19. The current yield on our dividend is approximately 5%.

Looking at Meredith as a whole, today we generate approximately $1.5 billion in revenue annually. Our National Media Group is in fact the leading media company serving U.S. women through powerhouse brand like Better Homes and Gardens, Parents and Allrecipes.com.

Meredith Xcelerated Marketing has major relationships with corporate clients including Kraft, Chrysler and Lowe’s, and features expertise in digital, social mobile and database marketing.

Our Local Media Business reaches about 10% of U.S. households and has grown non-political advertising revenues for 12 straight quarters.

In our National Media Group, we’ve very strategically expanded our audience overtime. We serve her from the beginning stages of family formation throughout her adult life, including the time when her children are grown and have left home.

Among our peers our portfolio is the most focused on adult women. We hold the clear leadership position in parenthood, food, home and the Hispanic categories. All told our brand reached 100 million unduplicated women each and every month, including 40 million unique visitors to our digital property.

We are accelerating that digital presence with Allrecipes.com and aggressively extending our brand into tablets and mobile content distribution as well, and I’ll give a little more color around that in just a few moments.

In our Local Media Group we’ve assembled a great mix of network affiliate. Most of our stations are located in faster growing West and South Eastern regions of the country, including Atlanta, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Portland.

Based on our large footprint in the West and the South, and our history of operational excellence, we feel very good about the growth prospects for our Local Media business. We’ve successfully extended both our National and our Local brands across multiple media platforms overtime. This offers our consumer flexibility to access our content however they prefer which of course has led to a growing consumer engagement.

We built scale across these media platforms and these offers advertisers and marketers a variety of opportunities to reach both broad and niche audiences, leading to revenue and cash flow growth overtime.

Let me close this overview with a quick look at some examples of success against our growth initiative. Starting with our National Media Group, we acquired the popular EveryDay with Rachael Ray and FamilyFun brand along with the world’s largest digital food sites Allrecipes.com, adding scale and deepening our leadership position in the food and the parenthood categories.

We’ve launched our brands across a variety of tablet and mobile devices, and created the Meredith sales guarantee to prove that magazine advertising yields results at retail. We’re growing are already profitable circulation model by increasing the numbers of subscription we sell online and have recently extended and expanded our already very successful licensing program at Wal-Mart stores across the country through 2016.

Our Local Media Group just finished a record political advertising season. We also recently renewed our largest network affiliation agreement. We developed a strong new business pipeline at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing with recent wins from Kraft, Hallmark along with Hormel. We’ve created the Meredith-Iris Global Network to generate more revenues overseas and bring foreign programs here to the United States as well.

And finally, a little over a year ago we launched our new total shareholder return strategy that has been very well received in the financial marketplace and delivered nearly a 45% return to shareholders in its first year.

Now let’s move more into our National Media Group growth strategy where we are very focused on the initiatives you see on this slide to drive growth in revenue and profit overtime. First, let’s take a quick look at a video to introduce the Meredith National Media Group.

[Video]

So as you saw in the video we reached 100 million unduplicated women every month. As most of us already know women are in fact the driving force behind most decision-making for their families, their homes and the family’s health and well-being. Women control 70% of U.S. household spending are about $4 trillion annually.

And when it comes to media, women are in fact receptive to all of our platforms from print to web to tablet. They are great and loyal consumers and content aggregators especially on the magazine platform.

The spent more time online than men and they are great word of mouth promoters because of their very active engagement in social media as well. All of these factors make women a very attractive audience for advertisers and a very important strategic focus for the Meredith Corporation.

That singular focus on women has in fact helped our brands remain relevant and vibrant, this combined with the fact that we primarily produce evergreen content rather than time sensitive content has led to a steady growth in readership. Meredith magazine readership has in fact nearly doubled over the last decade.

However, counter the trend in other areas of print that do create time sensitive content such as newspapers and news weekly magazine. Equally important, we’ve grown our digital audience at a very fast cliff without cannibalizing our print audience in the process.

Our largest brand Better Homes and Gardens is a great example of continued evolution. The magazine has monthly readership approaching 40 million as it has for well over 25 years. We’ve built the largest website among its competitive set and today Better Homes and Gardens has a major presence across social media sites such as Pinterest, Tumblr and Facebook.

Better Homes and Gardens is available in its interactive tablet form on all major platforms and most recently we’ve added a whole variety of mobile apps. And just yesterday we again received independent confirmation of Better Homes and Gardens leadership position this time from Adweek which named Better Homes to its annual hot list.

Historically, these strong consumer growth metrics would have translated into advertising growth as well. However, the current magazine advertising marketplace has been challenging due in part to greater media fragmentation. But we’re certainly addressing this issue head on.

First, we continue to add scale to our portfolio and take share in the marketplace. Our execution combined with portfolio addition has enabled us to grow faster then any of our peers.

Over the last decade we’ve more than doubled our share of the U.S. magazine advertising marketplace. This has led to operating efficiencies in areas from consumer marketing to printing to paper procurement. All these factors contribute to the strength of our overall cash flow.

We’ve also developed new tools to measure the effectiveness of print advertising. We’re so confident in our brand and the results that they deliver that in fact we created the Meredith sales guarantee to prove that advertising in Meredith magazines sells product at retail. We are banking on that belief with the guarantee for our advertisers, which is never been done in our industry.

More than a dozen brands have joined the inaugural phase of this program, this past year, increasing their advertising spend with us in exchange for the sales guarantee commitment. We recently expanded the program to include the pharmaceutical category as well.

This chart represents a recent and exciting new piece of research that we received from the Nielsen Corporation. Nielsen has now completed over 1000 digital ROI studies from other companies and can now compare the results of those studies to what they’ve already done in print.

As you can see from the chart, investment in print significantly outperforms digital ROI when Nielsen compares sales lift using it Homescan panel product. In addition to innovating new performance metrics for our advertising clients, we’re also leveraging our strength in our largest ad categories, which include food, parenthood home and the Hispanic category.

Food of course is a great advertising positioning. More and more consumers are cooking meals at home and the very competitive nature of this business has led to increase spending to attract new customers and protect market share. As a result, advertising spend has grown faster than average for this category when looking over the past decade.

We’re deliberately growing our scale in the food category. Today we account for nearly 20% of monthly food advertising making us the clear category leader. With Allrecipes.com the world’s largest digital food site we’re well-positioned to capitalize on the digital opportunity as it evolves as well.

The parenthood category is equally attractive. We expanded in the parenthood over a decade ago with the acquisition of the American Baby brand. It was our first step in positioning Meredith toward the earliest stages of family formation and has accomplished a series of goals. It gave us access to much younger consumers and set us up perfectly to transition our customers through our portfolio as her family grew.

The addition of the Parents brand, the number one in parenthood cemented our leadership position in this category. Today, we are in fact the dominant player, and we’ve enhanced that position through the acquisition of the FamilyFun brand and through print and digital brand extensions as well.

We’re the clear leader in the home category as well led by Better Homes and Gardens, our flagship brand and a wide variety of special interest media properties. Through our leadership position, we benefited greatly from the housing boom in the early part of the decade.

Throughout the housing recession, we refined our product and our strategy and maintained our 40% share of advertising in this marketplace. Our efforts have been recognized including Traditional Home being named to Advertising Age’s 2012 A-List as one of the top brand in the industry.

It may surprise you but we also have the broadest reach in the Hispanic category. Today, we reach more than one in every three Hispanic women across media platforms. This includes 7 million Hispanic women at every life stage through our magazine brands and 4.5 million monthly unique visitors through the Meredith Hispanic Digital network.

We’re also expanding beyond our core areas of content and advertising expertise into beauty, retail, financial services and the automotive-related categories. Based on historical growth rate, we know that these are important conversations with our client.

We’re using our editorial assets and attractive environment that attract these advertisers bringing other assets to bear, including video, research, consumer insight and of course the Meredith sales guarantee. Beyond advertising, we continue to leverage our brand to drive profitable growth and our brand licensing business is a great example. This business today generates about 40 million in very high margin revenue.

Our biggest program is with Wal-Mart where we have over 3000 Better Homes and Gardens branded products in every Walmart store across the country. Additionally, we have a growing Better Homes and Gardens real estate franchise that has now attracted over 8000 agents in 25 states as well as Canada. We also have 25 licensing relationships for our brands in 20 countries across the globe.

Now, let’s spend a few moments on our fast developing digital business. Today, the Meredith Women’s Digital network is the largest premium branded digital content site across the lifestyle category.

We’ve extended that expertise to mobile, tablet, video, and now e-commerce. We reach 40 million monthly unique visitors through significant organic growth and the acquisition of Allrecipes.com. Our goal is to move that to 60 million uniques by 2016.

So let’s take a closer look at Allrecipes.com. It is in fact the most visited food site across the globe and the number one food recipe channel on YouTube and its recipe app is the most downloaded on mobile operating system. It’s the high growth business with high-margin potential.

Since 2008, revenues have grown at about 20% cliff, an operating profit at about 30%. With Allrecipes.com, we now dominate the top three media platforms, consumers turn to for cooking information; online, magazines, and of course in cook books. Our best-selling Better Homes and Gardens’ Red Plaid is in fact the world’s most popular cookbook.

Putting Meredith together then digitally with Allrecipes.com moves us immediately to the number one position in food and the number three slot in the broader women’s lifestyle category, where we compete for digital and revenue. This puts us comfortably ahead of some other very well known brand and is a major boost to our ad sales efforts, especially as we look forward into calendar 2013.

We’re now working aggressively to extend the Allrecipes brand to complementary media platforms, to grow consumer connection, and drive revenue. Our initiatives include adding video, allowing us to increase our CPNs and formally mobilizing the brand through specific products for smart phones and for tablets.

All recipes is truly a social media engine. All of its recipes are in fact user generated. We believe we can create even more social media connections and intent to leverage that community in new ways including e-commerce.

Powerful names in the software development community recognize Allrecipes’ unique position with advertisers. And here’s a brief video about Allrecipes for the Windows.8 from Microsoft operating system that’s just being introduced.

[Video]

Our product like Windows 8 emphasizes the importance that mobile represents. Today, approximately 30% of the traffic we generate is coming from mobile and tablet devices. To better serve this audience, we’ve introduced a series of mobile specific sites and apps that have resulted in more than 20 million downloads.

We’ve made huge strides in extending our brands across multiple tablet platforms as well with more than 20 brands available on all major digital newsstands. Today, about 1.5% of our customers are reading tablet specific editions of our brand. We have a goal to move that to about 10% of our circulation by our fiscal 2015.

We believe we can deliver a rich-engaging experience for consumers via the tablet, significantly lowering our production costs as we move forward. Another way, we’re lowering our cost is by aggressively moving our consumer orders from print subscriptions to online check out.

This is a simple but powerful example of e-commerce as each digital order is about $5 more profitable over the life of the subscription than traditional direct mail sources. Additionally e-commerce brings a younger consumer to our brand. Our goal for fiscal 2012 was to generate about 2 million subscriptions online. We delivered 3.2 million. Our goal for fiscal ‘15 is 5 million orders and I believe we will exceed that significantly.

I’ll close our discussion of Meredith National Media Group with a quick update on Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. Over the last five years, we’ve built a powerful suite of capabilities including digital CRM, social media, mobile and database marketing, that we sell individually or as part of a very comprehensive marketing program to corporate clients.

While this business has been challenged in calendar ‘12, we’re currently experiencing a remarkably strong new business pipeline and have landed a number of great new clients. We expect that MXM will deliver growth in calendar ‘13 driven by these new wins along with recent program expansions from existing clients as well.

The full power of MXM capabilities is really best viewed by the marketing engines we create for our corporate clients. This slide shows the Lowe’s creative ideas program. We started work for Lowe’s on its e-commerce site. From there, we expanded the account to print magazines and a very robust e-mail marketing campaign.

Now, we’ve started creating custom video content with step-by-step how-to’s and instruction. Finally, we’ve added mobile, social marketing and in-store branding. With that review of our National Media Group, Chief Financial Officer, Joe Ceryanec will kickoff the local media group but before turning it over to Joe, here’s a very brief video of our strong CBS affiliates newsgathering capabilities in Hartford.

[Video]

Joe Ceryanec

Good afternoon. So I’m going to start my discussions with the look at our local media group and our priority is for driving revenue and operating profit growth within the broadcast business. These include growing our ratings in order to maximize our non-political revenue, capitalizing on seasonal political revenue, which we just completed its cycle and growing our revenues from non-traditional advertising sources.

As you just saw on the video, our commitment to Hartford is a big reason that WFSB is constantly rated number one across all newscasts. This slide shows where five of our stations rank in ratings on newscasts and being number one is a very much a priority for driving non-political revenue.

Now, as we’ve grown ratings, we’ve been able to translate that ratings growth, ratings success into revenue growth. As you can see on this chart, since 2009 we’ve grown non-political ad revenue at a 5% compound annual growth rate. At our first fiscal quarter, which ended September 30th we also group non-political revenue 5%.

A big reason for the non-political ad growth is really from these two ad categories, automotive and professional services. Together, these two categories account for about 40% of the non-political revenues at our station groups.

As I mentioned, we are just completing a political cycle as well. And for our two first fiscal quarter, we will deliver over $38 million of political revenue in those two quarters which is an all-time high for Meredith. And we saw particularly strong political revenue in Hartford and our Las Vegas markets.

I’d wrap up the local media discussion. I wanted to close with the status of where we’re at with our network affiliations, which is a hot topic these days. This fiscal year, we have renewed two of our affiliation station groups. The first is with CBS where we operate six CBS stations and the second is with our FOX station group, where we operate three stations.

So as you can see on this chart, our affiliation contracts now extend through fiscal ‘16 and ‘17 for our CBS and FOX. We have one NBC station in Nashville and that NBC affiliation contract is up at the end of fiscal 2000 -- or end of calendar 2013.

As you probably heard at this conference, the network is part of our renewed relationship. We are now sharing our retransmission revenues with the network stations. So as we look at our fiscal 2013 income statement, it will look quite a bit different than it did in fiscal 2012, and I’ll give you some numbers.

So in fiscal 2012, we generated about $28 million in revenue from retransmission fees that we got paid by the MSOs and satellite providers. This year as those MSO contracts are coming up for renewal and we’re able to raise those rates, we’re going to generate about $48 million in revenue from retransmission.

However, as we’ve now entered into new affiliation agreements with CBS and FOX, and we’re going to start sharing those, we will pay the networks about $20 million of costs. So this year the P&L will look like $48 million revenue, $20 of costs, operating profit of $28 million which is about where we were last year.

The good news is that as we move into our fiscal ‘14 and we have a full year of revenue under the MSO contracts, we expect that that operating profit will grow substantially in our fiscal 2014.

The last topic we want to talk to you today was our TSR strategy. And as we stood here a year ago, we have just announced our total shareholder strategy. As we look at what the market expectations were a year ago, we believe that the general market expect to the S&P to grow at about 7% to 8% over the next year with those top quartile companies delivering 13% to 14%.

Now, as we look at our total shareholder return strategy, we really looked at it in three different components. The first component you see here is based on earnings growth, and our expectation are that we can grow our topline revenue by modest 2% to 4% per year, with again modest margin expansion, we believe that we can grow net income 4% to 8% a year.

The second category that we deliver TSR is through returning cash flow to our shareholders, that’s through our dividend, which is currently yielding about 5%, as well as share buyback program, which yields another 2%.

So from a free cash flow contribution we’re returning about 6% to 7% to our shareholders. So from a purely organic basis through earnings growth and through cash flow yield, we expect to deliver 10% to 15% return. And then with changes in our portfolio and acquisitions, we believe we can also increase our valuation.

So as we look at how we’ve done from an earnings standpoint. This chart shows what our earnings per share has been since 2009 which was our last presidential political cycle. Our current guidance for our fiscal ‘13 is $2.60 to $2.95.

So you can see from 2009 when we delivered $2.03 to fiscal ‘13 based on our guidance range, we would have grown earnings in the 6% to 10% compound annually. So actually tracking ahead of that TSR slide I showed you just a minute ago.

From a free cash flow standpoint, we’ve paid dividends for 65 straight years and have increased our dividend to past 19 straight. Even in the middle of the economic downturn. As I mentioned, our current dividend yield is 5% and even with potential changes in the tax code, we believe that our dividend remains very attractive long-term vehicle to deliver value to our shareholders.

We will review our dividend payout this January, which is what we historically have done on an annual basis. As I mentioned, we’re also buying back shares over the past 12 months, we repurchased about 30 million of our outstanding shares. And from a debt profile we ended our September quarter levered at about 1.6 times, which will give us a lot of flexibility for cash going forward.

And this chart shows the flexibility we have with our cash flow. If you look at the last couple years we’ve generated free cash flow in the $150 million to $185 million. You will see in fiscal 2012 when we increased our dividend even after that incremental dividend we are still generating over $80 million of free cash flow that’s available for further acquisitions, executing on some of the strategies that Steve talked about in our food, our parenthood, in our home categories, further investment in MXM, expansion of digital capabilities, our brand licensing capabilities, as well as expanding our Local Media platform.

Now if you look over the past decade, we have generated free cash flow of a little bit over $2 billion, that’s on the left side of the chart. On the right side, reflects how we’ve spend that cash and what that shows you as we returned about half of our free cash flow to our shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks, and we’ve invested 55% in the business through capital expenditures. as well as acquisitions.

And if I was standing here 10 years from now, I’d like to be able to tell you similar story and that is that we reinvest about half of our free cash flow in growing our business and have return to our shareholders.

Now to wrap up the TSR discussion, this chart shows, what we expected a year ago when we announced our TSR program and if you remember we said, S&P 7% to 8%, top quartile 13% to 14%. Well, over this past year, the S&P is actually returned 16% TSR with the top quartile companies at 49% and over this past year we have returned 44%. So very close to our goal of that top quartile.

And here is a look at our current guidance for our second quarter and for our fiscal year. So our second quarter will end December 31st and we expect earnings of $0.85 to $0.90 per share, and for our full year, which will end June 30, 2013, we expect earnings per share to be $2.60 to $2.95.

So, now I’ll turn it back to Steve for a quick wrap up and then we’d be happy to answer questions.

Stephen Lacy

Well, thank you very much Joe. In closing, we are in fact a very powerful media and marketing company within unrivaled reach of 100 million unduplicated women. With Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, we built up a full-service digital marketing agency and we operate a really great group of local stations in fast growing markets.

Our management team has proven execution ability and we’re committed to balancing future growth with returning cash flow to our shareholders as Joe just showed you a few moments ago.

We’ve increased our dividends now for 19 consecutive years and will be reviewing that again in early calendar ‘13. The current yield is about 5% and we believe we can deliver total shareholder return in the range of 10% to 15% as we look to the near future.

So we shall be happy to answer any questions that anybody might have this afternoon. Yeah, please sir.

Question-and-Answer Session

Unidentified Analyst

(Inaudible) repeat to the webcast.

Stephen Lacy

Okay.

Unidentified Analyst

There has been a lot of consolidation activity in the broadcasting space and you’ve chosen to return capital to shareholders and instead of participating in that consolidation and conventional wisdom that’s been bouncing about is, you need scale in the broadcasting space in order to have negotiating leverage payable with the all the channel video providers in the networks, I just could you try to share your views on that with us?

Stephen Lacy

Yeah. We have in fact been very involved with each of the major transactions that have gone down over the last 12 months and did aggressively. But within the range that we believe we can generate a proper return for our shareholders. So, I guess, said a different way just not high enough.

So we are very interested in that portfolio. We’re a big believer. But some of these properties just went for a bit ahead of your price then we had anticipated. But we really did participate in each one of the major transactions including McGraw-Hill and the others. Thank you very much for the question. What else do we have this afternoon?

Unidentified Analyst

Can you speak little bit about next issue, the consortium of magazines, what’s going to be the growth drive there outside of just being on the tablet and how do you see that moving your business forward?

Stephen Lacy

Yeah. So the question is about next issue media for some of you maybe a little less familiar, that is in fact a consortium that the largest players in the industry, including Time Inc. and Hearst and Condé Nast and Meredith that the News Corp. put together to bring our brands in the tablet format to the consumer. So we wouldn’t each have to make all the technology investments required to make that happened.

So there is now a next issue media digital store front, there are about 70 brands available to the consumer and we think it’s a very creative model that is sort of all you can eat for a monthly subscription price, much higher, than what each of us would generate individually for one of our brand.

So for all the monthly titles, you pay $10 a month, the revenue gets divided up with whatever content the consumer would in fact download and if you include the weekly titles its $15 a month rather than $10.

So it’s in the early stages. But we think it’s off to a good start and we think it’s a great way to allow the consumer to sample a variety of brands and help drive transition to the tablet format that we are all very interested in making happen for the consumer.

So we think that there will be two opportunities. The opportunity to make money from subscription sales and we believe overtime that our 20% investment in that business will yield the return as well. Yes, sir.

Unidentified Analyst

For the local TV business, could you talk about conceptually how much money you make off of the local new task versus network programming? And just what the plan is in case more and more of network programing watching move to Hulu or YouTube or any type of set-top box arrangement?

Stephen Lacy

Well, depending on the marketplace. From a blanket perspective, I would say, the vast majority of our profit really comes from the local news that we generate, not quite, but I would say almost 50% -- 45% to 50%.

We don’t get much of the revenue in primetime, because that part of the day is in fact most of those box are retained by the network, that’s four hours for CBS and two hours a day for our FOX affiliates.

So, obviously, that is important for late evening lead into our late news and we’re concerned about that programming been robust and being successful. But it is not a huge part of the profitability of our local station group. Any other questions this afternoon.

Well, thank you very much for being with us. We certainly appreciate your attendance and your questions. Enjoy the rest of the conference. Thank you very much.

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