Tegna issued a preview of its first-quarter results Monday, saying they exceeded internal targets. But the local TV station owner, which is in the midst of a proxy fight with shareholder Standard General, also withdrew guidance for full-year 2020 and also its 2021 outlook, citing uncertainty due to COVID-19.
Earnings for the quarter will come in at 39 cents a share, the company said. That would be up 15% from the year-earlier quarter and a penny better than Wall Street analysts’ consensus estimate. Revenue will be $684 million, which would also be just ahead of the street’s forecast.
The first look at earnings comes more than two weeks before the company is scheduled to officially report quarterly numbers on May 7.
In addition to the earnings preview, Tegna also scheduled a virtual shareholder meeting for April 30. The meeting will feature a consequential vote on board seats. The company has been clashing over board nominees with Soohyung Kim, founding partner of Standard General, which recently upped its stake in Tegna to 12%.
Investors did not appear to be persuaded by the pre-market moves, as shares in Tegna declined more than 4% in early trading. The stock has dropped 35% in 2020 to date, mirroring an overall slump for local broadcasters due to dark, coronavirus-related clouds looming over the advertising sector.
“The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with regard to the broader advertising industry, remains uncertain,” the company said in a statement. “We continue to carefully monitor business impacts and to be diligent in implementing cost saving measures to reduce expenses and reducing non-critical capital expenditures. Non-political advertising revenues are being impacted by the wide variety of control measures in place, including states of emergencies, mandatory quarantines, required business closures, ‘shelter-in-place’ orders and travel restrictions.”
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