Jacksonville TV stations may not experience election-year bump

The Tegna CEO omits Florida in list of battleground states.

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Presidential election 2024 in United States of America
Presidential election 2024 in United States of America
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For much of the last two decades, Jacksonville television stations would look forward to election years because of a surge in revenue from political advertising.

However, 2024 could be disappointing for them as Florida is no longer considered a battleground state.

As Tegna Inc. CEO Dave Lougee discussed the prospects for political ads in the company’s year-end conference call with analysts Feb. 29, Florida was not on his mind.


“Our stations continue to play a fundamental role in political marketing strategies for all large races, whether at the national or state level,” Lougee said, according to a company transcript of the call.

“Our stations are in nearly three quarters of the battleground states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.”

Tysons, Virginia-based Tegna owns 64 U.S. television stations, including Jacksonville NBC affiliate WTLV TV-12 and ABC affiliate WJXX TV-25.

It also owns a CBS affiliate in the Tampa Bay market.

“As for Congress, we’ll, of course, have elections for every house race across our markets, including very competitive seats in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington State,” Lougee said, again omitting Florida.

“In terms of competitive U.S. Senate seats, our footprint has fewer races than in 2020 or 2022, with four of the 17 races currently considered competitive,” he said.

He said races in Texas and Maryland may become competitive, but Lougee did not mention Florida where Republican Senator Rick Scott is up for reelection this year.

Lougee also said five governor races in Tegna markets will be on the 2024 ballot.

Tegna’s annual report said political ads on television are expected to continue growing.

“Broadcast television remains the most popular medium for political advertising,” it said.

“S&P Global anticipates U.S. political advertising on local television broadcasters will total $3.9 billion in 2024, up 13% over its estimate for the 2022 election cycle and 10% greater than the 2020 presidential election cycle.”

Tegna recorded $446 million in political ads in 2020 for the most recent presidential election. 

Political ad revenue fell to $61 million in 2021 and rose back to $341 million in the midterm election year of 2022.

Political revenue dropped 87% to $46 million last year.

The other public company operating Jacksonville television stations, Graham Holdings Co., also reported a drop in political ad revenue in 2023.

Graham, which does not hold quarterly conference calls, said total revenue in its broadcast division fell 12% to $472 million last year, because of a $58 million decline in political ads. However, it did not report the total amount of political advertising.

Arlington, Virginia-based Graham owns seven television stations, including Jacksonville independent station WJXT TV-4 and CW network affiliate WCWJ TV-17. It also owns a CBS affiliate in Orlando.

The good news for Jacksonville television stations is that their broadcast market includes Southeast Georgia. With another close presidential race expected in Georgia, those stations will be able to make up some ground they’ll lose from ads targeted to Floridians.

Cadre expects election year lift

Jacksonville-based Cadre Holdings Inc., which makes safety products mainly for law enforcement and first responder markets, also expects a lift from this year’s election.

“It tends to be true that public safety becomes top of mind during presidential election years,” CEO Warren Kanders said during Cadre’s March 5 year-end conference call.

“It is also worth highlighting that crime rates, while down somewhat over the last year or so, remain relatively high compared to where they were pre-pandemic,” he said.

Safety is also a concern for Cadre’s international markets.

“Geopolitical conditions continue to be tense and crime rates and internal friction are also higher in many countries in which we operate,” Kanders said.

“Having said that, the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East have still not impacted our businesses in any material way,” he said.

“We do expect as these events eventually calm down, there may be an opportunity for Cadre to play a larger role through a number of our products, mostly notably through our EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) offerings.”

Cadre reported fourth-quarter earnings rose by 8 cents per share to 25 cents, with revenue growing just 0.8% to $124.6 million.

However, revenue for all of 2023 rose 5.4% to $482.5 million.

Helped by two recent acquisitions, Cadre expects sales to grow to a range of $553 million to $572 million this year.

“Looking ahead, we are optimistic about our prospects for 2024, and we expect we will be able to make additional traction on our M&A program this calendar year,” Kanders said.

FRP Holdings plans 2-for-1 stock split

FRP Holdings Inc. reported fourth-quarter earnings rose by a penny to 30 cents a share, and earnings for all of 2023 rose by 8 cents to 56 cents per share.

The Jacksonville-based commercial real estate development company also announced a 2-for-1 split of its stock.

“As a thinly traded company with a small number of shareholders, we believe this has the potential to add some liquidity to our stock,” Chief Financial Officer John Baker III said in FRP’s March 7 conference call.

FRP had about 9.5 million shares outstanding at the end of the year, so the split effective April 1 would increase its shares to about 19 million.

The company trades on the NASDAQ as FRPH. It closed March 11 at $60.68 a share.

FRP had been focusing on mixed-use projects in the Washington, D.C., market but with softening multifamily conditions in the Washington market, it sees more potential in industrial development.

Leasing revenue from its multifamily properties grew just 1.8% to $21.8 million in 2023 but revenue from industrial and commercial projects jumped 45.4% to $5.4 million.

Cannabis firm VidaCann profits from CARES Act

Cannabis company VidaCann LLC had lower sales in the first nine months of 2023, according to a March 4 Securities and Exchange Commission filing by a company planning to acquire it.

However, Jacksonville-based VidaCann’s earnings jumped because of a refund of payroll taxes under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.

VidaCann operates 27 cannabis dispensaries in Florida, according to the filing, and maintains cultivation facilities and a manufacturing complex in Jacksonville.

Las Vegas-based Planet 13 Holdings Inc. agreed in August to buy VidaCann for $48.9 million. Planet 13 said in the filing it expects to close the transaction this month or early in the second quarter.

Financial statements for VidaCann in the filing said sales fell 9.6% to $24.8 million in the first nine months of the year and it reported an operating loss of $466,235.

After the refunds under the 2020 federal CARES Act, VidaCann had net income of $2 million in the nine-month period, compared with earnings of $110,564 in the first nine months of 2022.

Planet 13 has cannabis production and dispensary operations in Nevada, California and Illinois and is looking to expand operations in Florida after completing the VidaCann deal.

The company said March 7 it raised $11.3 million from a stock and warrant sale, and it could use some of those proceeds to expand its retail presence in Florida.

Planet 13 reported its 2023 revenue fell 5.8% to $98.5 million.

The company had a net loss of $73.6 million, which included $50.8 million in asset impairment charges.

“In spite of recent events, Planet 13 is generating positive adjusted EBITDA and continues to have a strong balance sheet with over $17 million in cash and effectively no debt,” co-CEO Larry Scheffler said in a news release.

 “As we look to 2024, our goal is to prepare for the exciting potential of adult use in Florida and increase our scale, efficiency and operating leverage in core states to drive growth in operating cashflow and shareholder value,” co-CEO Bob Groesbeck said in the release.

Nordstrom focused on Rack business

Nordstrom Inc. has operated a full-line department store at the St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville since 2014, but the upcoming opening of its second Nordstrom Rack store in the area is more of a focus for the Seattle-based company.

The company has operated a Nordstrom Rack store at The Markets at Town Center since 2013 and is scheduled to open a Jacksonville Beach Rack store May 2.

During the company’s March 5 conference call with analysts, CEO Erik Nordstrom said Nordstrom Rack’s performance was its top priority in fiscal 2023 as it opened 19 new stores.

The Jacksonville Beach store is one of 22 Rack openings planned for 2024.

“New Rack stores continue to be an excellent investment as they deliver well in excess of their cost of capital with a relatively short payback period,” Nordstrom said, according to a company transcript of the call.

The company had 93 full-line stores and 258 Rack stores at the end of the fiscal year.

Total fourth-quarter sales rose 2.2% to $4.29 billion but Rack sales jumped 14.6% to $1.43 billion.

Besides performing strongly on their own, Rack stores also help the full-line stores, Nordstrom said.

“Rack stores continue to be a growth engine for our company as they are our largest source of new customer acquisition, accounting for over 40 percent,” he said.

“Growing our store count also supports long-term customer retention. In fact, roughly a quarter of retained Rack customers migrate to the Nordstrom banner within four years.”

The new store at the South Beach Regional shopping center is moving into a space formerly occupied by Jacksonville-based fashion retailer Stein Mart Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed its stores in 2020.



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