The company operates through two primary units: the enthusiast media group and the consumer unit. The former bills itself as the "No. 1 special interest media company, with more than 70 magazines, 90 websites, over 65 events, two television programs ..." Its brands include well-known titles such as Motor Trend, Automobile, Automotive.com, Equine.com, and Power & Motoryacht.
Earlier this month, the company announced that it would explore the sale of the enthusiast group, which generates revenues of more than $500 million a year. PRIMEDIA has hired Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers to coordinate the process.
PRIMEDIA's consumer group produces a range of guides including apartment guides, new home publications, and auto guides that feature a comprehensive listing of used cars. The unit generates in excess of $300 million in annual revenues.
In the fourth quarter, the enthusiast unit generated $130.3 million in revenues, versus $128.7 million in the comparable quarter of 2005. Revenues for the consumer group were $80.5 million, down very slightly from the $80.7 million in the year-ago quarter. Operating income for the company was $30.8 million, versus $29.1 million a year earlier. The net loss for the quarter was $13.8 million, or essentially flat with the $13.7 million in the final quarter of 2005.
For the full year, PRIMEDIA's total revenues were $849.3 million, versus $821.7 million for 2005. Net income, however, was materially different for the two years, because 2005 included net gains on the sale of both About, Inc. and the company's business information segment. As such, net income for 2006 was $38.3 million, compared with $564.6 million for 2005. In the earlier year, discontinued operations -- the gains -- contributed $631.3 million to earnings.
So, what should Fools make of this company and its numbers? Probably not much. PRIMEDIA represents a difficult corporate comparison, but comparable companies might include Meredith
In the final analysis, however, I attempt to keep my analysis uncomplicated. I therefore wonder why I should buy PRIMEDIA, with its forward P/E of 24, when I can sidle up to shares of Time Warner at a 17 forward P/E. Or, if you're determined to make other comparisons within the media sector, Comcast
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Time Warner is recommended in Motley Fool Stock Advisor ; Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia used to be recommended. For more stocks from the top of Tom and David Gardner's list, try a free 30-day guest pass.
Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments.