Univision, preparing for an IPO, reports 10% higher third-quarter revenue

Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications reported improved financials in its fiscal third quarter, including 10% higher revenue compared with the year-earlier period.

The privately held media company has been preparing for its long-awaited public stock offering. Top managers on Tuesday, however, declined to say whether company owners planned to push forward with the partial offering this year or wait for the turbulence to settle down on Wall Street.

Instead, the executives focused on demonstrating that they have been making strides in operations, including its portfolio of cable television networks. Galavision and the sports network, Univision Deportes, have shown ratings strength.

Company executives also touted Univision's influence among Latinos.

"Univision is a gateway to the Hispanic community," Univision Chief Executive Randy Falco told analysts on a conference call.  "We have a trust and a connection with our audience unlike anything that I have ever seen."

Univision is owned by Los Angeles billionaire Haim Saban and a consortium of private equity firms. The group acquired the company in a 2007 leveraged buyout that left the company awash in debt.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Univision reported a 24% increase in operating income, excluding some items, to $391.4 million. That compared with $315 million during the third quarter of 2014.

Revenue jumped 10% to $801.5 million compared to $728.9 million in the year-earlier period. Results were boosted by some one-time items, including a broadcast spectrum leasing arrangement in one market.

Media networks, including television, contributed $727.4 million, an increase of 12.3% over the year-earlier period.

Advertising revenue, however, dropped about 3% to $517.7 million.

Radio was a big disappointment. Revenue declined 8.1% to $74.1 million.

Univision, based in New York, had tough comparisons because the third quarter of 2014 was partially boosted by the company's broadcast of the popular World Cup of soccer and an uptick in political advertising.

Univision expects 2016 to be a big political year.

"Hispanic America is young, digitally savvy and growing in economic and political influence," Falco said.

Company executives said they have seen no evidence of cord-cutting. Wall Street has been rattled by reports that some consumers are opting for smaller cable bundles or canceling their subscriptions altogether.

But Univision's cable TV subscription revenue has been on the rise. Falco said Spanish-language outlets provided a growth opportunity for cable companies.

The company's debt load has declined to about $9.3 billion.

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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