iHeartMedia Shares Tumble 36% Following Quarterly Results, Outlook

iHeartMedia shares fell 36.1% on Thursday after the company’s first-quarter earnings showed continued uncertainty in broadcast advertising mixed with improvements in its digital business. 

iHeartMedia’s loss of 12 cents per share bested analysts’ estimate of a loss of 55 cents per share, according to MarketWatch, and its revenue ($799 million) and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ($105 million) both fell within the guidance it provided. 

CEO Bob Pittman and COO and CFO Rich Bressler reminded listeners to Thursdays’ earnings call that the first quarter is historically the slowest period of the year. They also reiterated the company’s optimism about 2024 and the expected benefits of political advertising in the second half of the year.

“Although the marketplace continues to be dynamic, with a changing outlook on interest rates, inflation trends and global and domestic uncertainty, we remain confident that this is a recovery year highlighted by the strong momentum and our podcast business and the sequential improvement of our multi platform groups year over year adjusted EBITDA performance,” said Pittman. 

The current quarter may be an improvement over the first quarter, but iHeartMedia doesn’t expect much improvement over 2023. Thursday’s guidance for Q2 revenue as “approximately flat” compared to the prior-year quarter’s revenue of $920 million was slightly below analysts’ consensus of $935 million, according to Zacks Equity Research. April revenue is expected to be down 0.4%, Bressler said, and the multi-platform group’s gross revenue is expected to be down “mid-single digits” in the second quarter. 

iHeartMedia shares dropped to $1.38 on Thursday, bringing their year-to-date loss to 48.3%. Thursday's closing price was 70.8% below the stock's 52-week high of $4.73 established on July 31, 2023.

Another blemish was the first quarter’s free cash flow (FCF) was negative $88 million, although it was improvement from negative $133 million in the prior-year quarter. First-quarter FCF did not include the $101 million iHeartMedia received from the sale of BMI to New Mountain Capital in February

Total revenue of $799 million was down 1.5% from the prior-year period. The multi-platform group, which includes iHeartMedia’s broadcast radio networks and events business, suffered the biggest declines: revenue fell 6.7% to $493 million and adjusted EBITDA dropped 11% to $77 million. 

Led by growth in podcasts, digital audio group revenue rose 7.0% to $239 million and adjusted EBITDA jumped 25.9% to $68.1 million. In the audio and media services division, revenue improved 12.7% to $69.2 million and adjusted EBITDA soared 54.4% to $23.7 million. 

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