Monday, February 28, 2005

Primedia earnings rise, but not for B2B

Primedia says its net earnings rose to $13.5 million in the fourth quarter from $9 million a year earlier. The company gives the credit to its "enthusiast" unit, which includes magazines such as "Snowboarder" and "In-Fisherman."
But if you exclude earnings from the company's About unit, which it has agreed to sell to the N.Y. Times, then things look a little different -- revenue for all of 2004 is essentially flat, showing a climb of only 0.2%.
Things certainly don't look good in the B2B unit, where I once worked.
In the fourth quarter, total B2B revenue rose 5.2% compared with a year earlier. But despite years of layoffs and cost-cutting moves, expenses rose 8.4%. That leaves segment EBITDA -- the measure by which Primedia prefers to be judged -- down 2.9% in the quarter. Across the entire company, excluding About revenue, then segment EBITDA is down 2.6% for the year.
So what's next? If past is prologue, then expect another round of layoffs, more ill-conceived initiatives to "drive revenue", and another management shakeup.

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