$3.5 Bil. Q3 Loss at Univision

NEW YORK Spanish-language media company Univision posted a $3.5 billion loss for the third quarter, the result of a $3.6 billion asset write-down.

Univision CFO Andrew Hobson told analysts Monday that the write-down was primarily due to the decreased value of TV and radio stations and the reduced cash flows that stations are expected to produce going forward.

Net revenue for the company was down 2.4 percent to $511.3 million for the quarter, but as company CEO Joe Uva noted, Univision’s revenue performance outpaced the industry, which he said was down roughly 9 percent in the same period.

But Hobson cautioned that the company is encountering a difficult fourth quarter, in which it will report substantially weaker results compared to the previous three quarters. Key drivers there, he said, were declining ad sales in the automotive and retail categories.

The company’s TV auto advertising was down 23 percent in the third quarter, said Hobson, and the outlook for the sector is not expected to improve anytime soon. The sector represents about 15 percent of Univision’s TV advertising. Radio car spots (comprising about 10 percent of the company’s radio advertising) were down 25 percent in the quarter.

Hobson declined to give any specific guidance for the fourth quarter and beyond. He did say that one bright note was anticipated revenue from retransmission consent agreements, which are currently being negotiated with cable and satellite carriers. “We’re expecting a very successful retransmission campaign,” he said, although he declined to quantify that with any revenue estimates.

In addition, Hobson said advertisers continue to shift dollars to Hispanic media from English-language outlets, a trend he sees continuing “for the foreseeable future.”

For the first nine months, net revenue was essentially flat at about $1.503 billion, with a net loss, due to the write-down, of $1.3 billion.