Consensus Builds That Big Media Q3 Earnings Reports Will Be “Uninspiring”

That word — “uninspiring” — is how Wells Fargo’s Marci Ryvicker characterizes the likely results from Q3 financial reports due at the end of October and beginning of November as she joined the ranks of analysts warning that investors may be let down. Anticipating softer-than-expected ad sales, she tweaked — mostly trimmed — her forecasts this morning. “The best way to put this quarter is we are least unexcited for [News Corp] given its most important segment (Cable) remains healthy,” she says. It seems that some ad execs cut their spending while they waited for more clarity about what will happen both with the economy and in the fall elections. Buyers also held back due to “the general ‘dreary’ ratings for both broadcast and cable” — except at NBCUniversal, which had the Olympics, and at News Corp, which Ryvicker says was “somewhat of a positive surprise.” The analyst also notes that advertising for political campaigns “is coming in later than initially expected.” That’s why she believes investors will be keen to hear any signals from CEOs indicating that sales are improving in Q4 — and how they intend to deal with rising programming costs as many companies commit big bucks for sports and original shows.

Ryvicker’s earnings per share forecasts for the quarter ending in September were already below the Street’s consensus for CBS, Disney and Viacom, but in-line for News Corp and Time Warner. This morning she lowered her projections for Disney (by 2 cents to 67 cents) and Viacom (by 1 cent to $1.16) — and raised CBS by 2 cents to 59 cents. That’s still lower than her peers’ expectation for 62 cents.

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