Playboy's (NYSE: PLA ) second-quarter earnings release shows that the company is still waiting for sexier times. The negative showing wasn't unexpected; the company prepped the market for the bad showing last month, when it warned about the effects of a cost-cutting strategy.
Playboy needs to get top-line revenue growth going, which is tough, since the Rabbit's traditional customer base is now reaching for other prurient publications such as Stuff. In this past quarter, the company saw a 2.8% decline in revenues to $80.5 million, and an operating loss of $1.2 million, compared to an operating profit of more than $7 million in the year-ago quarter. Finally, there was a net loss of $3.3 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, versus a net profit of $4.6 million, or $0.14 per diluted share.
If you read over some of the details, you'll see that CEO Christie Hefner maintains her focus on the future. She believes that several positive catalysts to come will offset the bad prognosis of another quarterly loss, including an upcoming subscription video-on-demand strategy and the further exploitation of the Club Jenna acquisition.
Although the fourth quarter is expected to be the best of the bunch in the short term, the company is still only expecting somewhere between a nickel and a dime as far as fiscal-year earnings go (including charges). In the worst-case scenario (the nickel), the P/E approaches 200 at the current stock price; you don't even need to go as far as a PEG ratio to know that this is expensive as such metrics go. Even if you're willing to pay up for an overpriced P/E ratio, the company's declining cash flow this quarter should give you pause.
But when I go back to my Take on Playboy's last quarter, where I put up a table of the company's historical cash flow, you can see that overall, the company has historically enjoyed stellar cash flow growth. Call me crazy, but I think that kind of cash-flow growth can eventually return. First, though, Christie Hefner must sequester herself in her office and solve a puzzling conundrum: How can she rereposition the Rabbit to regain its luster as the brand for adult entertainment?
It'll take work, and I hope the CEO is up to the task. The individual segment performances were weak, and the improved operating loss at the publishing division doesn't offer much in the way of comfort. As the release states, the competition is getting tough; New Frontier Media (Nasdaq: NOOF ) reported a dazzling quarter, helped along by a strong presence on DirecTV (NYSE: DTV ) . Playboy needs to get in the game again, and show consumers of adult product what it's made of.
Some more Foolish fun with the Rabbit:
Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. He'd be willing to help Playboy figure out long-term growth strategies if they'd invite him for an indefinite stay at the Mansion. The Fool has a disclosure policy.