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Cumulus Continues Downward Earnings Trend

Berner says, “We have a lot of work left to do to stabilize the business”

Thursday Cumulus Media released revenue reports showing the broadcaster continues its financial struggle five months into a new corporate turnaround plan.

The country’s second largest broadcast ownership group reported net revenue of $308.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, down 6.2% from the previous year. Cumulus’ net revenue for 2015 was down 7.5% from 2014.

“It’s going to take time to show measurable results. We have a lot of work left to do to stabilize the business,” said Mary Berner, Cumulus CEO.

Berner, who was appointed CEO in September 2015, pointed to the group’s stations’ poor ratings as its biggest challenge citing four sequential years of ratings decline.

“We are now focused on increased local input. For a long time we failed to provide them adequate tools to succeed. Increased local input, authority and accountability will result in a better product, then better ratings and finally increased revenue,” Berner said in an earnings conference call Thursday. “Ratings are core to our business, but it will take a meaningful amount of time to convert ratings success into revenue.”

Berner said it is too early for “the company to have seen any material trajectory change” from those ratings efforts.

The challenges faced by Cumulus and its balance sheet are significant, Berner acknowledged, which has forced the company to explore all possible options to maximize value for the company to give it time to turnaround the business and reduce debt.

Cumulus, which owns syndication service Westwood One, has sold off its corporate aircraft for $10 million, Berner added.

Cumulus Media Inc.’s stock price — CMLS on the Nasdaq stock market — has continued to falter, according to analysts. It closed Thursday at $0.41 a share. That falls below the Nasdaq minimum listing price of $1.00 per share. Nasdaq sent Cumulus a delisting notice in late 2015.

“We remain in the 180-day initial grace period regarding the Nasdaq minimum listing standards. This grace period expires on May 2, 2016,” said J.P. Hannan, Cumulus senior VP, treasurer and CFO. “We continue to explore options on ways to regain compliance.”