Of course, as noted in an earlier post, Reed did not take any questions, canceling the quarterly call-in, not only for now, but forever. The text of his statement is printed below:
“In my 21 years in the local media sector, 2008 was by far the most challenging year. Our print classified business, our category that is most sensitive to the economy, declined nearly 20% on a same store basis in 2008 and accounted for over 75% of our total advertising revenue decline. In the fourth quarter, the big three classified categories - help wanted, real estate and automotive - each experienced the largest decline in the last six quarters.
“Advertising spend in the three primary classified categories has declined dramatically, but we have not seen a significant shift to other mediums in our markets. We continue to believe that the majority of our overall revenue declines are cyclical and that when the economy turns, advertising revenue will improve.
“Our local businesses have held up well during this treacherous environment. Local print advertising, excluding classified, was down only 3.8% in 2008 on a same-store basis. In addition, online revenue increased 21% and circulation revenue increased approximately 2%. Our print audience remains relatively stable as evidenced by our circulation results. In addition our overall audience continues to grow through the development of our interactive strategy.
“As we look ahead over the next 12 to 24 months, we think the economy will remain very weak. Our focus is on improving our products and operations, aggressively pursuing reductions in controllable expenses, finding ways to become more efficient and continuing to invest in our fastest growing category, online. I am proud of the efforts and dedication all GateHouse employees have shown this year and am confident we will emerge a stronger company when the economy improves.”
The following breakdown of the company's 2008 results was included in the news release:
The Company reported full year 2008 total revenue of $683.1 million, an increase of 17.9% over full year 2007. As Adjusted Revenues were $698.5 million, an increase of 14.1% over full year 2007. The increase in revenues was driven by the Company’s acquisitions and implementation of its online strategy, partially offset by declines in print classified advertising revenues, in particular, help wanted, real estate and automotive.
Reported operating loss for the full year 2008 was $582.9 million. Excluding the impairment charge associated with goodwill and mastheads and other long-lived assets, operating income in 2008 was $32.6 million, as compared with $45.2 million in 2007. As Adjusted EBITDA was $131.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2008, down 20.3% on a same-store basis.
GateHouse Media owns The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, Pittsburg Morning Sun, Neosho Post, Big Nickel, Greenfield Vedette, and Aurora Advertiser in this area.
GateHouse Media stock closed at six cents per share today, down one cent from Thursday.