The company logo could have been a person tightening his belt. Emmis Communications has completed a 6 1/2 year transformation. Jeff Smulyan, the Indianapolis-based chairman of the board, said in the conference call yesterday that Emmis is moving forward with a group of stations in secondary markets such as St. Louis, Austin, and Terre Haute. He also mentioned New York’s lone wolf–Hot 97/WQHT.
Emmis is down to one radio destination in the biggest market. Last year, Emmis sold off Rocker WRXP to new Merlin Media, which created FM News/WEMP.
More recently, Emmis was at the center of another radio surprise, leasing 98.7, the former KISS FM home, to ESPN/Disney.
In the two deals last month, Emmis stands to pocket $92.5 million, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. Despite the sadness loyal fans felt about their beloved KISS leaving the air, with several personalities and shows shifted to WBLS, the news sent Emmis stock soaring 21.5 percent, to $1.05 cents per share. It was the first time Emmis shares had traded above $1 since July.
For the year, Emmis reported a profit of $79.5 million, or 58 cents per share, compared with a loss of $25.3 million, or 67 cents per share, in fiscal 2011.
The media company got in the black, thanks to Emmis’ repurchase of $61.9 million in stock from preferred shareholders. Also helping Emmis turn a profit was the sale of its portion of Merlin Media to a private equity firm for $120 million.
“This company has really weathered what we think is the worst—we know is the worst—downturn in media,” Smulyan said. “I couldn’t be prouder of what our people have done to get us through this.”