Despite claims that it’s on a turnaround path, Media General’s (NYSE: MEG) latest quarterly report won’t do much to shake off the activist investors looking to make changes at the newspaper publisher. Q4 revenue declined 16 percent to $243 million, from $289 million in the year-ago period. The company attributed some of this weakness to lower political spending and the impact of a shorter quarter. It claims that the decline would have only been 10 percent, had the two periods been the same length. Net income was slammed due to a one-time write-down on an asset sale. Operating income, which excludes the effect of the write-down, fell 17 percent. If there’s a bright spot there, it’s that op income declined in proportion with the decline in revenue, which is better than the sharp negative operating leverage shown by peers in recent quarters.
— The Interactive Media business was a bright spot, growing 36 percent to $9.2 million (still rather small compared to the total business), which the company attributed to its advertising (including advergaming) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) HotJobs. Excluding a write down in this business, it still lost $1.2 million.
— Publishing revenue fell 9 percent on, predictably, classified and other advertising weakness.