Entercom stock takes hit on soft radio advertising market, CBS Radio concerns

Shares in Entercom Communications Inc., the nation’s second-largest radio group, fell  Thursday for the third consecutive day  as investors again soured on the company’s prospects.

At close of trading, Entercom shares lost 10 cents a share to finish at $7.65. Over the last three days, Entercom stock has shed 28 percent of its value. The Bala Cynwyd-based company reported on Tuesday first-quarter losses and a 7.5 percent decline in revenue because of lingering problems with the money-losing United States Traffic Network, or USTN, and a soft radio advertising market.

Malvern’s USTN, which provides traffic reports for Entercom and sells advertising around those reports, has run into financial problems and stopped paying Entercom.

To fix the problem, Entercom has renegotiated its deal with USTN and taken an ownership stake in the traffic-information provider. Still, Entercom expects to miss $15 million in revenue from USTN this year.

Entercom CEO David Field also rattled investors by saying that the advertising weakness has persisted into the second quarter, though he expects stronger results later in the year.

The first-quarter’s poor performance resulted from a confluence of factors that included a surge in investment spending to integrate the former CBS Radio stations into Entercom and radio format changes in some big radio markets that could lead to audience gains later in the year. The CBS Radio stations included six in Philadelphia.

The first quarter “paints a picture that really does not capture the underlying progress we are making toward our goals,” Field said.

The company also is seeking to sell several radio stations in California and a tower site in the Chicago area, but neither deal has closed.

Analysts were concerned in a conference call Tuesday about Entercom’s financial plan, especially if radio advertising continues to decline in the “low single digits. ” The company also assumed a mountain of debit in 2017 when it paid $4 billion to acquire CBS Radio.

 

Company officials put Entercom ‘s total debt at $1.8 billion, compared with a stock-market capitalization — the value of its stock  — of $1.1 billion.

Field has said the merger of Entercom and CBS Radio would create a national platform for advertisers and has evangelized on the potential for radio advertising. Entercom’s two largest peer companies in the radio industry, iHeartMedia Inc. and Cumulus Media Inc., have filed for bankruptcy protection.