Belo (BLC) has had a storied past in the media world. The share price has gone from well below a dollar to trading at over $8 a share. With earnings coming up on February 8th, what's in store for Q4 numbers?
First, the expectations - First Call has 33 cents with a sales of 203.93M. That seems to be a pretty good move up from the 180.29M in Q4 last year (up 13.10%). And the analysts must be pretty sure on the number as their sales highs and lows estimates are pretty much the same (203.30M-204.50M). So is 13.10% good? Of course it is, but I think there is more.
Follow me here for a sec. Two years ago, First Call on the same quarter was .34 cents, which Belo beat at .38 c. So First Call is actually predicting LESS than 2 years ago. As mentioned in its Q4 2010 report, it was a "near record" year for local elections running all the time on TVs and Belo collected a good bit of revenue from that. But something happened this year, as I'm sure you are very aware - nationwide elections.
This year, Belo will get revenue from all the close races in their markets. Granted, I wish they had a station in Ohio, but beggars can't be choosers. In fact, they have plenty of stations to choose from. Not to mention, any big pocketed presidential ads that might have ran during their local news is icing on the cake.
So while The Street sees Belo coming in over last year's quarter, but under two years ago, I see them beating it. And beating the forecast is not rare for Belo. And they sure do beat too, to the tune of 10%-20%+ range. The only time in recent quarters where they did not beat EPS estimates was back in 2010 and they hit projections.
About 90 days ago, The Street had Belo at .40 cents EPS for this quarter and has recently slashed it to .33. Yet the stock price keeps going up. I don't find it coincidental that this markdown has not led to a stock price decline. There is a lot of potential this earnings for Belo to show they are continuing to beat the analysts. In fact, I think they are planning on it as they have a carrot dangling for all interested parties. They have a dividend coming at earnings time.
Belo has an ex-dividend date of 2/6 and a record date of 2/8 for 8 cents a share or about 1% of the current price. And the Conference Call date is also 2/8 (before market open). So Belo is inviting people to come snatch a dividend, but stay for the earnings call and reap the rewards.
Make no mistake, these dates are planned to sync for the purpose to be seen by the industry. Belo is not the little TV company it once was when it was hanging out under a dollar. They know it, and you will too, come February 8th.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.