Time Warner Reports a Modest Overall Decline–Worse at Time Inc.–in 2012 Results

By Michelle Manafy

One of the most telling aspects of Time Warner,Inc.’s fourth-quarter/full-year earnings statement for 2012 released this morning (Feb. 6)  was that chairman/CEO Jeff Bewkes’ "highlights" did not mention the company’s publishing businesses at all. Overall, full-year revenues decreased 1% from 2011 to $28.7 billion, as growth at the Networks segment was offset by declines at the Film and TV Entertainment and Publishing (Time Inc.) segments.

Buried deeper in the official earnings statement is the unsurprising news that Time Inc. experienced a decline of 7% ($241 million) to $3.4 billion. This reflects decreases of 5% ($104 million) in advertising revenues, 5% ($61 million) in subscription revenues and 21% ($83 million) in "other revenues." The company attributes its advertising revenue decline to lower magazine advertising demand, which were partly offset by revenues from SI.com and Golf.com, the management of which was transferred from Turner Broadcasting to Time Inc. during the second quarter of 2012. Lower domestic and international newsstand sales were cited as the reason for the decrease in subscription revenues.

On a slightly more positive note, Time Inc.’s 2012 share of overall domestic advertising was 21.5%, up from 21.0% in 2011 (Publishers Information Bureau data). Regardless of its dominance of the dwindling advertising market, Time Inc.’s adjusted operating income decreased 20% ($117 million) to $463 million due to its decline in revenues. The company specifically states that the drop in operating income was partially offset by cost savings initiatives. Clearly, given the recent reduction of 6% of Time Inc.’s worldwide staff, the company will be seeking to offset Q1 losses with further cost-saving initiatives.

Time Warner’s financials are pleasing Wall Street. At 10:45 a.m. (Eastern), the stock was trading at $52.60 per share on the New York Stock Exchange, +5.3% from yesterday’s $49.96 close.