Dallas Morning News parent swings to profit in part on real estate sales

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Proceeds from the sale of parking lots in downtown Dallas helped A. H. Belo Corporation, parent of The Dallas Morning News, swing from a year-ago loss to a third-quarter profit this year of $2.6 million, or 12 cents a share.

In a report issued after Monday’s market close, the Dallas-based media and marketing services company said total revenue for the three-month period that ended Sept. 30 was $60.6 million, down $4.2 million, or 6.5 percent, compared with the third quarter of 2016.

Revenue from advertising and marketing services, including print and digital revenue, was $34.9 million in the quarter, a decrease of $3.4 million, or 9.0 percent from the previous year.

Digital and marketing services revenue made up 22.7 percent of total revenue, up from 21.6 percent in the third quarter of 2016. Circulation revenue was $18.8 million, a decrease of $800,000, or 4.0 percent, due primarily to a decrease in home delivery revenue.

"We’re making progress on the two most important growth initiatives we have as a company," including increasing the number of paid digital subscriptions, said Jim Moroney, chairman, president and chief executive of A.H. Belo.

The company is experimenting with special subscription rates for areas such as high school sports and also is seeing growth in its marketing services operations.

At the end of the third quarter, the company had 22,103 paid digital subscribers, up nearly 71 percent from the prior year. Moroney said the growth of new revenue sources "means we’re relying continually less on print."

The land sale also provided additional cash for the company which, like the newspaper industry overall, has seen circulation revenue decline. In September, the company completed the sale of one parcel of land and received net cash proceeds of $8.3 million, generating a gain of about $5 million.

In October, the company sold two additional parking lots for $13 million, generating a gain of about $7.5 million.

The company also announced name and organizational changes for its marketing services divisions.

Five companies purchased by A.H. Belo since 2012, including Speakeasy, Connect and Vertical Nerve, now will be known as Belo + Company, said Mike Orren, president of Speakeasy and Belo Business Intelligence, which handles research and production for the company’s marketing divisions.

The marketing services operations include everything from marketing via social media to helping companies with automating how they market to consumers.

Belo + Company will work with companies seeking a regional or national audience.

Advertisers and marketers who want to reach audiences served by the company’s media properties, including The News, SportsDay and Al Dia, will now go through the new Belo Media Group, which replaces DMNMedia.

"We’re really trying to say to the marketing [community] that we’ve got this strategic one-stop shop now and they can come here regardless of if they need social media or [search engine marketing]," Orren said. "They can get a unified strategy and somebody who can pivot that strategy to what’s working the best. It’s to show the marketplace that we’re one unified entity as opposed to all these little silos."

Orren said the company plans to phase out most of the previously used brand names. For at least five years, A.H. Belo has sought to broaden its revenue stream by purchasing marketing companies.

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