Wall Street punished radio giant Entercom Communications -- which owns KYW and other Philly stations -- on Wednesday as second-quarter revenues fell short of projections. Entercom stock cratered almost 40 percent, closing at $3.36 a share.
A slowing second-quarter advertising market and weak ticket sales to Entercom events produced a 2.3 percent boost to revenues in the second quarter, which was significantly lower than the 4 percent that Entercom CEO David Field had projected earlier this year.
Investors seem to have lost patience with Entercom, which acquired the former CBS Radio empire in 2017 with plans to create a national radio juggernaut of news and sports. But the combined Entercom/CBS Radio has repeatedly run into problems merging the two radio companies in a difficult business environment for legacy media platforms. At the time the deal was announced in early 2017, Entercom’s stock traded at $15 to $16 a share.
Shares closed yesterday at $3.36, down $1.89 (36%) in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
An investor fear is that Entercom could drown in its debt if it can’t grow revenues and service its debt. Based on Wednesday’s trading, Entercom, the nation’s second largest radio company (behind iHeart Media Inc.), had a stock-market capitalization of about $465 million but debt of $1.6 billion.
Entercom chief financial officer Richard Schmaeling said that the company should make progress cutting its debt by late 2020. He also said that expenses -- though they rose slightly in the second quarter -- would decline slightly for 2019.
“We are certainly sobered by the slowdown” in the second quarter, Field said in the conference call.
But Field also believed there was a “complete disconnect” between how Wall Street sees the company and what those inside Entercom view as its prospects, particularly with its new digital offerings, podcasting and national audio sports network.
Field noted in the conference call that the former CBS Radio stations such as those in Philadelphia performed better than the legacy Entercom radio stations. Entercom owns 235 radio stations nationwide.
In addition to its earnings on Wednesday, Entercom announced it had acquired the podcasting creator Pineapple Street Media for $18 million and reached an agreement to acquire the remaining stake in another podcasting company, Cadence13. Field expects Entercom to become the nation’s No. 3 podcaster after National Public Radio and iHeartCommunications.