MEREDITH SEES TOUGHER TIMES: Meredith Corp., publishers of More and Better Homes and Gardens, on Thursday provided an advertising forecast for the third quarter, noting that publishing ad revenue could be down 15 percent, compared to a decline of nearly 20 percent during the first half of fiscal 2009. In addition, the company said broadcasting ad revenue pacings are currently down approximately 40 percent, thanks to a 70 percent decline in automotive pacings.
As for the recently completed second quarter, net earnings were down 65 percent, to $12.5 million, thanks to a special charge of $16 million that included the cost of layoffs, the closure of Country Home magazine and relocation of staff. Publishing operating profit was $15 million, compared to $45 million a year ago. Revenues were $282 million, versus $309 million during the second quarter of fiscal 2008 and ad revenue was $122 million, compared to $153 million during the prior year.
— Amy Wicks
PLAYBOY RESHUFFLES: Playboy’s changes go on. The company said Thursday that it expects to incur charges related to streamlining its cost structure, which will result in an operating loss for the fourth quarter and full year, ending Dec. 31 (the results will be reported Feb. 18). The write down of goodwill and other assets is expected to be in excess of $100 million, and the company plans to report a fourth-quarter 2008 restructuring charge of approximately $4 million, relating to streamlining initiatives. More restructuring charges are expected to be reported during the first two quarters of 2009, Playboy said.
As part of the restructuring, the company will consolidate its print and online operations in Chicago, keeping a “small editorial and sales presence in New York,” but it expects to sublet its existing office space and move some licensing, editorial and publishing positions to Chicago — a move that is likely to lead to more layoffs. The company promoted Jimmy Jellinek, previously division senior vice president of digital content, to editorial director of combined print and online content. That appointment was first reported by The New York Post on Thursday. Jellinek, former editor in chief of Maxim, will report to Hugh Hefner and be based in Chicago. Chris Napolitano, former editorial director of the magazine, will now serve as editor at large based in New York, as family obligations have prevented Napolitano from making the move to the Windy City.