Primedia Shares Slide on Revised Forecast


Primedia, the publisher of Apartment Guide and other consumer magazines, lowered its 2007 forecast, hurt by reduced ad spending due to the U.S. housing crisis, sending shares sliding as much as 17 percent.

The company said its 2007 results would be hurt by higher-than-expected expenses, mainly related to investments to expand its distribution network by about 2,000 retail locations and extend its relationship with a national grocery chain.

Expenses further rose as the company had to fully staff its Apartment Guide and Rentals.com sales forces.

Confidence in American Housing

The outlook cut comes five months after Primedia, 60 percent of which is owned by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, said it would sell its unit that comprised more than 70 magazine titles and 90 Web sites in a bid to streamline its operations.

Shares of the Norcross, Ga.-based company were down more than 13 percent at $11.44 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Monday's losses have eroded gains of more than 30 percent since the start of the year to market-close on Friday.

Housing Downturn Weighs

New home builders, particularly those with developments in the Midwest and Northeast markets, and customers who publish within the resale home sectors are decreasing their advertising spending, the company said.

The U.S. subprime mortgage crisis and faltering homes sales have fueled spending cuts by some real-estate advertisers, including mortgage companies, homebuilders, and real-estate agents who have come under heavy financial pressures.

At the same time, the real-estate industry has been shifting its spending online, which is often a less expensive advertising outlet, as they have cut their marketing budgets.

Some advertising analysts, however, maintain that spending could quickly rebound as homebuilders try to promote lower prices and drum up business.

Primedia expects adjusted earnings before income, taxes, depreciation and amortization before items to be approximately flat compared to 2006. In August, it said it will deliver mid-single-digit percentage segment-EBITDA growth.

Revenue growth for the full year is now expected to be flat to low single digits, compared with its previous forecast of low-single-digit percentage revenue growth.

Two analysts expect revenue of $325.5 million for the year, according to Reuters Estimates.