UPDATE 3-Lamar sees Q2 revenue below expectations; shares drop

Thu May 6, 2010 2:04pm EDT

* Q1 loss $0.27/shr vs est loss $0.30/shr

* Q1 rev $244.1 mln vs est $247.3 mln

* Shares down 11 pct (Adds analyst comment, conference call details)

By Sudipto Ganguly

BANGALORE, May 6 (Reuters) - Billboard operator Lamar Advertising Co's (LAMR.O) shares fell 11 percent after the company forecast weak quarterly revenue, underscoring concerns that businesses continue to remain tight-fisted on ad spending.

Shares of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Lamar, which competes with CBS Outdoor -- a unit of CBS Corp (CBS.N) -- and Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc (CCO.N), fell 11 percent to $31.27 in afternoon trade on Nasdaq.

The 108-year old company, which also operates logo signs and transit advertising displays, expects second-quarter revenue below analysts' expectations.

Lamar sees second-quarter revenue of about $282 million, compared with analysts' expectations of $284.4 million.

Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett said outdoor advertising recovery was coming in slower than expected.

"However, ad markets are rebounding strongly on other local media, and outdoor is seen as a few-quarter laggard," Crockett said in a note to clients.

Historically, Lamar has been modestly conservative in their forecast, Gilford Securities analyst Jim Boyle said in an email.

"With much of their second-quarter bookings already in-house, the company is rarely surprised and likely has given itself some margin in case the economy and advertising stalls," Boyle said.

Pricing has firmed up in the smaller and middle markets compared with the large markets, the company said on a conference call with analysts.

"Slow and steady is the best way to describe where we think we are headed for the rest of the year," Chief Executive Kevin Reilly said on the call.

Lamar's first-quarter net loss widened to $24.8 million, or 27 cents a share, from $21.7 million, or 24 cents a share, last year. Revenue declined about 1.3 percent to $244.1 million.

Analysts were expecting a loss of 30 cents a share, on revenue of $247.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Operating expenses fell more than 4 percent to $233.3 million. For the alerts, click on [ID:nASA00BRA] (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Bangalore; Editing by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri)

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