Tidbits From A.H. Belo Conference Call

I just finished listening to Robert Decherd on his quarterly conference call with investors. You gotta say one thing about Robert: he doesn’t mince words. He opened the call by saying that the climate for newspapers is awful. Interested parties can go here to hear the full discussion, but there are a couple of Dallas-centric items that got my attention:

1. Briefing — the door-to-door freebie — took in $1.7 million in revenue this quarter and has a positive EBITDA (don’t know if that’s before or after overhead allocations). So complain all you want; it is working.

2. Al Dia — the Spanish-language daily which had its frequency cut to twice-a-week and its distribution sliced to 100,000, is now at break-even and is expected to make a positive contribution in the remainder of 2009.

3. The company’s mobile news sites are sold out for the 4th quarter. Its application for an IPhone app is currently pending at Apple.

Oh, and a question was raised about going private. Not going to happen. (Who would lend the money?) Another question was raised about selling newspaper properties. That elicitied a less dogmatic answer. But Decherd did wonder aloud who a possible buyer might be, since other media companies are under water and financial buyers are out of the market. Nobody asked why the stock moved upward last week in advance of the financial results being released this morning.

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