P&G posts flat ad spending; media firms' results tepid

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The advertising industry saw more mixed signals last week as marketing leader Procter & Gamble Co. reported ad spending was flat last quarter and more media companies reported weak results.

P&G said ad spending in the quarter was the same as last year despite the acquisition of hair-care marketer Clairol. But Chief Financial Officer Clayton Daley noted spending was up in dollars and as a percent of sales for the fiscal year ended June 30.

P&G, the nation's No. 2 advertiser behind General Motors Corp., reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings ahead of analysts' expectations, with net income of $910 million vs. a loss of $320 million a year ago. Excluding restructuring charges and accounting changes, income rose 22% to $1.09 billion.

sales up

Sales were up 6% for the quarter to $10.2 billion but would have been down slightly after factoring out acquisitions and a write-off of more than $200 million due to discontinuation of Olay cosmetics and other products. P&G reiterated projections of sales growth of 4% to 6% in fiscal 2003 and earnings growth in the low double digits.

Among media companies, Univision Communications posted a 22% drop in net income to $22.2 million for the second quarter, even as revenue rose by 36% to $322.8 million, due to higher expenses.

"The bad news is that while advertisers continue to spend more on Spanish-language TV, it's not increasing at the rate we originally anticipated," said Andrew Hobson, Univision's exec VP. Univision had projected a growth rate of 15% to 17.5% for Spanish-language TV this year but now expects 12.5% to 14.5% growth, he added. The leading Spanish broadcaster lowered its full-year revenue forecast to a range of $1.1 billion to $1.14 billion from $1.13 billion to $1.18 billion. In the first trading day after the late Aug. 7 announcement, Univision stock plunged to a low of $16.40 before recovering some ground to close the week at $21.54.

Univision's pending acquisition, Hispanic Broadcasting Corp., announced second-quarter net income rose to $10.4 million from $10.2 million a year ago, with revenue up 4.1% to $68.6 million. Univision announced plans in June to acquire HBC, the largest U.S. Hispanic radio network. McHenry T. Tichenor Jr., HBC's president-CEO, forecast third-quarter revenue growth in the 6% to 8% range.

revenue down

Playboy Enterprises cut its net loss by more than half, to $3.1 million for the second quarter from $8 million in 2001, thanks to improved results in its TV and licensing operations and reduced losses at Playboy Online. Revenue dropped 1.8% to $70.6 million.

Publishing revenue dropped 17.2% to $27 million, with higher subscription sales at flagship Playboy not making up for drops in newsstand and advertising sales. The magazine's revenue for the quarter was down 10%, and management forecasts third-quarter advertising pages will drop 17%.

Chief Financial Officer Linda Havard said the company expects trends in publishing will improve in the fourth quarter, although they will remain weak overall.

contributing: jack neff, laurel wentz

Fast Facts

Reporting this week:

Aug. 13: Interpublic Group of Cos., Sirius Satellite Radio

Aug. 14: News Corp., Fox Entertainment Group, Vivendi Universal

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