Univision Posts Q4 Profit, Touts Multiplatform Growth

Hispanic media giant Univision Communications unveiled a 2015 fourth quarter profit Tuesday, signaling better prospects for its plans for an IPO initiated last summer.

In an earnings conference call led by Univision president-CEO Randy Falco and CFO Francisco Lopez-Balboa, the company disclosed a fourth quarter revenue rise of 1.1% to $735.9 million compared to the same time frame in 2014. Total revenue for the full year ending Dec. 31, 2013 dipped 1.8% $2.85 billion, compared to $2.9 billion for the same period in 2014.

Net income for the fourth quarter was $8.8 million, a big swing from a $136 million loss recorded in the year-ago quarter.

Management attributed slight growth despite higher subscriber fees and an increase in content licensing revenue to an uptick in programming costs of $8.3 million as it continues to spend more on original shows, and an increase in “other programming costs of $3.1 million.” Company also stressed that as a result of terminating its program license agreement with Venevision International in the fourth quarter, it was not expecting additional programming costs related to the Venezuelan media company owned by the Cisneros Group.

The company filed for an IPO last summer, but its plans to go public have been delayed due to Wall Street worries about the issues facing the traditional TV industry, beset by audience fragmentation, diminishing advertising revenue and cord cutting.

Unvision has been privately held by Thomas H. Lee Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Madison Dearborn Partners, TPG Capital and Saban Capital Group since 2007.

Lopez-Balboa also said the company was content with its Fusion network but would not address rumors that the Mouse House was looking to leave the joint venture. Management disclosed that it paid $27.1 million for a 40.5% stake in satirical news outlet the Onion in its concerted bid to reach the burgeoning bilingual millennial audience in the U.S.

“We are focused on continuing to drive innovation and enhance our distribution platform as we inform, entertain and empower a young, dynamic multicultural community that has increasing political and economic influence,” said Falco.

“We expanded our total unduplicated average monthly audience reach to 49 million media consumers across platforms – a 9 percent increase over the same period last year,” said Falco. “As the most trusted brand in Hispanic America, we remain focused on delivering a Univision branded experience to our audience across our multiple platforms, including our strengthened cable portfolio and new direct-to-consumer offerings such as Univision Now.”

Average viewership of Univision Now, Univision’s recently launched OTT platform, has exceeded their expectations, within and outside the U.S, said Falco.

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