Currency fluctuations, declining print advertising revenue and a decrease in circulation shrank Time Inc.’s fourth-quarter profit by 88.3 percent.
The publisher of Fortune, Sports Illustrated and InStyle said Thursday that it acquired Viant, a marketing platform that owns MySpace. Time Inc. said the deal, which closes in March, would combine its content, subscriber data and advertising inventory with Viant’s first-party data and programmatic capabilities. The publisher noted that the deal would give it a dataset that “rivals industry leaders Facebook and Google,” as well as programmatic technology backstopped by Viant’s advertising cloud platform.
“This acquisition is game-changing for us,” said Time Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Joe Ripp. “Marketers are selecting media partners that have either data-driven capabilities or premium content; we will be able to deliver both in a single platform and will stand apart from those that offer just one or the other. In other words, we will be able to deliver advertisers’ messages targeted to optimal audiences across all types of devices, along with the ability to measure return on investment.”
On the company call to investors, Ripp expressed enthusiasm for the future, despite declines in net income and revenue.
“Our diverse portfolio of brands, which sit across all platforms, allow us to touch audiences with the right content at the right time,” he said. “We engage audiences with trusted, inspiring and moving storytelling. And we know that when people engage emotionally, marketing messages anchor in long-term memory. That is what we’ve done for nearly 100 years. It’s part of our corporate DNA and it’s a foundational principle behind our comeback strategy.”
The ceo explained that there are “six pillars of revenue crossover” that will help Time Inc. return to growth. They include configuring a leadership team in the current media environment, building out its digital properties to maximize Time Inc.’s scale, improve its targeting and customization with data, up its branded content and native advertising “solutions,” increase video output and develop brand extensions in e-commerce and live events, for instance.
For the three months ended Dec. 31, net income totaled $17 million, or 15 cents a diluted share, compared with year-ago income of $145 million, or $1.32 a share. Stripping out costs and restructuring charges, Time Inc. earned 58 cents a share, up from 73 cents a year earlier.
Revenues fell 2 percent to $877 million from $895 million, Wall Street expected earnings per share of 66 cents on sales of $872.1 million.
Revenues were pushed down by a 6.6 percent dip in print advertising sales, which were counterbalanced by a 17.2 percent growth in digital ad revenue to $102 million.
Total circulation revenue fell 3.5 percent to $278 million, weighed down by a 5.6 percent drop in newsstand sales to $84 million and a 3.1 percent decrease in subscriptions to $185 million.
For the year, Time anticipates revenue to rise between 1 percent and 5 percent in 2016, after having declined 5 percent in 2015. The estimate translates to revenue in the range of $3.13 billion and $3.25 billion, above analysts’ estimates of $2.99 billion for the year.
Time Inc. spokesman Jaison Blair credited the revenue projections to a “moderation in [negative] print advertising trends” and strong growth in the company’s video, programmatic, social and mobile businesses.
“Our digital business is getting bigger and we’re getting better at selling digital,” Blair added.