Business Titles Slip as Consumer Books Gain

By Horton, Liz | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, January 1990 | Go to article overview

Business Titles Slip as Consumer Books Gain


Horton, Liz, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


Business titles slip as consumer books gain

NEW YORK CITY--Five years ago, business magazines ruled in profitability. Their operating cashflow margins were nearly 20 percent, while consumer magazines shuffled along at 13.2 percent. Now an annual industry report card shows the balance shifting, with consumer magazines poised to surpass business titles in profitability.

Even so, profitability for all magazines has remained well below that of the communications industry average, according to Veronis, suhler & Associates' seventh annual Communications Industry Report, a five-year survey of 275 publicly held communications companies.

Overall, the communications industry averaged a 19.9 percent cashflow margin and a 14.3 percent pretax operating income margin in 1988. It has continued to show higher profits than almost any other segment of American industry, points out J. Michael Hadley, executive vice president of Veronis, Suhler.

The industry report tracks radio and television broadcasting; cable television broadcasting; filmed entertainment; recorded music; newspaper, book and magazine publishing; business information services; and advertising agency services.

The outlook for consumer magazines is strong, according to John Suhler, president and co-CEO of Veronis, Suhler. Increased ad spending and circulation growth in 1988 bumped consumer magazine revenues up 7.0 percent, to $3.3 billion. Although the report tracks only the 10 publicly traded consumer magazine companies, their revenue growth figures mimic those of the consumer magazine industry as a whole, according to the report.

The increase in consumer ad spending is likely to continue, says Suhler. Net ad revenues were up 8.0 percent in 1988, after four years that averaged 4.4 percent growth annually. As for 1989, gross year-to-date figures from the Publishers Information Bureau were up as high as 11.9 percent by November, but this does not reflect discounts or negotiated rates.

Automotive and toiletry/cosmetics, the two largest magazine advertising categories, increased spending 18.8 percent in 1988. Even categories that had decreased spending over 1984 to 1987, such as liquor, cigarettes and computers, were up slightly in 1988.

Profit margins in 1988 were lower than in 1987 but still higher than in 1984. …

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