International Speedway Corp. shows strong revenue growth in 2014

Leave a comment

In a Tuesday morning conference call with shareholders, International Speedway Corporation — parent company of NASCAR — reported strong revenue growth for both the fourth quarter of 2014, as well as the full-year of fiscal 2014 ended Nov. 30, 2014.

“We are pleased to report solid financial performance for 2014, including results for our fourth quarter which exceeded our expectations.” ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy said.

“With positive momentum from capacity management and consumer marketing strategies, coupled with strong corporate sales and excitement generated by the new Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship format, we achieved sellouts at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami as well as pleasing TV rating increases for the later Cup events of the season.

“2015 is shaping up nicely, entering the first year of the new 10 year TV broadcast agreements with Fox and NBC. We are optimistic that the sport can carry forward the fan enthusiasm that peaked during the final rounds of the Chase, and, with some tail wind from strengthening consumer confidence, translate it into solid consumer sales and TV ratings in the coming year.”

According to financial statements released Tuesday, ISC saw total revenues for the fourth quarter (ended Nov. 30, 2014) grow to $199.8 million, an increase of more than $11 million over revenue of $188.7 in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013.

Total revenues for the entire 2014 fiscal year grew to $651.9 million, compared to $612.6 million in 2013.

Operating income was also up, growing from $29.5 million in Q4 of fiscal 2013 to $39.8 million in Q4 of fiscal 2014. Operating income for the fiscal year grew from $78.7 million in fiscal 2013 to $93.4 million in fiscal 2014.

There also were large gains in net income for both the fourth quarter and the 2014 fiscal year. Net income rose from $17,205,000 to $25,824,000 for the fourth quarter, and from $45,292,000 to $67,379,000 for the fiscal year.

“We’re pleased with our fiscal results,” ISC Chief Financial Officer Dan Houser said. “We had a strong fourth quarter that exceeded our expectations.”

In terms of capital expenditures, the ongoing $400 million Daytona Rising reconstruction of Daytona International Speedway remains on time and on budget, with the completion slated for Feb. 16, 2016.

One of the biggest things that the company can look forward to is its new 10-year relationship with Fox and NBC.

“2015 is the first year of new 10-year agreements with Fox and NBC for the three NASCAR touring series,” ISC President John Saunders said. “These agreements provide a solid foundation for our earnings and cash flow over the term (of the contracts). There are very few companies that have their top revenue source secured for the next 10 years.”

Another significant aspect of Tuesday’s report was in the area of title rights, otherwise known as entitlements, for race-naming. In 2014, ISC sold out all of its Sprint Cup and Xfinity (formerly Nationwide) series event entitlements.

Heading into the 2015 season, the company has one Sprint Cup and three of its 15 Xfinity Series race entitlements either still open or not announced, compared to this time in 2014, when it had three Sprint Cup and eight Nationwide race entitlements still open or not announced at that point.

ISC owns/operates 13 motorsports facilities that host more than 100 racing events annually.

Among other highlights of the conference call:

* ISC enjoyed sellouts of the last two 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup races at Phoenix and Homestead. TV ratings were also up 10 percent for those two events from the previous year broadcasts of those races.

* In addition, TV viewership averaged 5.3 million viewers per race, with 62 million unique viewers.

* 2014 Hispanic viewership of telecasts continued double-digit increase (although the exact number was not given), this on the heels of a massive jump of 40 percent from 2012 to 2013.

* Admissions revenue for Q4 and 2014 was up over 10 percent over the prior year, with Talladega and Martinsville fall races showing significant increases, as well as the fall Chase races being sold out at Phoenix and Homestead.

* In addition, the average ticket price sold in the fourth quarter was $79.38, driven largely by Talladega, Martinsville and Homestead. For the year, the average ticket price increased more than one percent to $81.79.

* NASCAR.com enjoyed a record one-plus billion page views on its various platforms.

* Currently, advance ticket sales are ahead of last year.

* Approximately one in four Fortune 500 companies are involved in NASCAR, an increase of three percent in 2014, and an increase of 11 percent from 2008.

* Last week’s announcement of a 10-year deal with Fanatics for an enhanced experiential and shopping environment for NASCAR as well as trademarks and certain intellectual properties at all ISC tracks.

* Prize payouts for all 36 races in 2014 increased to $53.8 million.

* Plans are progressing on the massive One Daytona project, a 189-acre development across from Daytona International Speedway that will create an entertainment zone that will have up to 1.4 million square feet of retail/dining/entertainment, 2,500 seats in a movie theater, 660 hotel rooms, 1,350 units of residential, 567,000 square feet of additional office space and 500,000 square feet of commercial/industrial space.

As for 2015, Houser expects the company to continue moving towards more revenue growth in the $615 to $630 million range, as well as greater gains in at-track attendance and TV viewership. In addition, TV revenue will grow from $303 to $315 million.

“It’s a very upbeat outlook,” Houser said.

Follow me @jerryBonkowski

NHRA: Top 10 storylines of the 2019 season

NHRA
Leave a comment

The 2019 NHRA season wound up being one where there was almost as much news and highlights made off the drag strip as on it.

That was the case in two of the top four storylines for the recently completed season, with the top story occurring even before the first pass down a drag strip in competition took place.

We’ve also included a poll for you to vote and see if you agree with our picks or not.

Here’s how our top 10 looks:

1. A Force-ful departure: Just two weeks before the 2019 season was due to open, Funny Car driver Courtney Force, daughter of 16-time champion John Force, stunned the drag racing world by announcing she was taking a hiatus from the sport – although she insisted she was not retiring. The wife of IndyCar driver Graham Rahal, Force turned over her high dollar Advance Auto Parts sponsorship to sister and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, who had previously been sponsored by Monster Energy. Courtney Force became the second high-profile female drag racer to step away from the sport in just over a year, joining fellow Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria, who went on hiatus after the 2017 season. This past October, DeJoria announced she would return to full-time NHRA competition in 2020. But as for Courtney, she remains on hiatus for at least the time being.

2. Torrence’s Texas two-step: Proud Texas native Steve Torrence won his second consecutive Top Fuel championship in 2019, winning nine races (including eight in a nine-race stretch). While Torrence enjoyed an outstanding season in 2018, winning 11 races and becoming the first driver in NHRA history to win all six races in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, he won just one playoff race in 2019. But he still managed to earn just enough points to hold off his closest rival, Doug Kalitta, by a mere three points for the second championship. Also of note: Steve’s father Billy finished a career-best fifth in the final standings, even though he competed in just 16 of the season’s 24 national events.

3. What happened to ‘The Sarge’? Tony Schumacher is the winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history, with eight championships and 84 national event wins. But he was essentially AWOL in 2019, failing to compete in even one race. The reason: sponsorship. Or more precisely, lack thereof. The U.S. Army, which had sponsored Schumacher for nearly 20 years – which prompted him to adopt the colorful nickname of “The Sarge” — pulled its funding after the 2018 season, leaving Schumacher without a fully-funded ride for 2019. Rather than try to race piecemeal from race to race with limited sponsorship, the son of team owner Don Schumacher decided to watch the season from the sidelines. How Schumacher could not attract a new big dollar sponsor, given his domination and success in the Top Fuel class, is almost unfathomable. Unfortunately, it’s looking like Schumacher – who turns 50 on Christmas Day – may remain sidelined in 2020.

John Force

4. A Force to be reckoned with once again: Even though he fell short of adding to his record 16 NHRA Funny Car championships, the 2019 season was definitely one of resurgence for John Force, the sport’s winningest and most popular driver ever. Force, who turned 70 years old in May, isn’t letting age slow him down, earning two wins during the season – including a milestone 150th Funny Car victory of his career – and finished fourth in the standings (up from ninth in 2018, seventh in 2017, and his best finish since he ended up fourth in 2016).

Robert Hight

5. At the Hight of his success: Robert Hight isn’t flashy or verbose as his boss, John Force. But when he’s not working as president of John Force Racing, the soft-spoken Hight has become one of the premier drivers in Funny Car history. In 2019, he earned his third Funny Car championship – his second in the last three seasons and third since 2009. Along the way, he captured six wins (including a milestone 50th win), was runner-up three other times, reached the semifinals five times and led all drivers as the No. 1 qualifier for eight races (a full one-third of the season). This was perhaps the most dominant championship of all for Hight, including leading the Funny Car standings for 23 of the 24-race season.

Erica Enders

6. Erica’s baaaaccckkkk: Erica Enders is back on top of her game, and on top of the Pro Stock category, earning her third championship in the last six seasons (and first since 2015). Admittedly, her championship came in the first year of a shortened Pro Stock schedule, having been cut from a full 24 races to just 18. Still, the Texas native won two races, finished runner-up three other times and reached the semifinals four other times. Also of note, Enders’ Elite Motorsports teammate, five-time Pro Stoc champ Jeg Coughlin Jr., came oh, so close to winning his sixth title, finishing just 21 points behind Enders in the final standings.

Doug Kalitta

7. What does he have to do to win first championship? Doug Kalitta came the closest he ever has to earning the first Top Fuel championship of his 20-year drag racing career, finishing just three points behind Steve Torrence in the Top Fuel rankings. It was almost heartbreaking as Kalitta seemingly did everything he needed to do to win the championship, including winning the season-ending race in Pomona, California, one of three wins he earned (as well as two runner-up finishes and six semifinal showings). Kalitta began the season with a win at Pomona, as well. But Torrence came into the season-ending event at Pomona with just enough of a lead (and reached the semifinals) to hold off Kalitta’s challenge. How close was Kalitta from winning the championship? If he had advanced one more round in any of the six playoff races, he would have bested Torrence. Unfortunately, in a sense, Kalitta – nephew of legendary NHRA team owner and racer Connie Kalitta – has become the Mark Martin of NHRA Top Fuel: always a bridesmaid but never a bride when it comes to winning a championship. But there’s still hope, Kalitta fans: he’s going to give it another try in 2020. Maybe that will be his year – finally.

Andrew Hines

8. He’s one heck of an easy rider: Andrew Hines made it look easy in 2019 – although it was far from it – when he earned his sixth career NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship (and first since 2015). Son of past PSM champion Byron Hines, Andrew Hines enjoyed one of the most dominating seasons ever of his career — not to mention one of the most dominating seasons in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category — winning eight of the 16 PSM events contested, along with earning two runner-up and three semifinal finishes. Hines held off 2016 PSM champ Jerry Savoie by 26 points and 2018 champ Matt Smith by 46 points.

JR Todd

9. What a difference a year makes: JR Todd had an exceptional season in 2018, with six wins, two runner-up finishes and six semifinal showings. Not surprisingly, the Indiana native went on to win the Funny Car championship that season for Kalitta Motorsports. But one year later, Todd was seemingly an afterthought when it came to challenging for the Funny Car crown once again. For as good as he was in 2018, Todd struggled through much of the 2019 season with just one win, three runner-up and two other semifinal finishes, ultimately finishing seventh in the standings, a distant 246 points behind series champ Robert Hight, who was second to Todd in 2018.

Austin Prock

10. Strong start for sport’s top rookie: When your father is renowned crew chief Jimmy Prock, it’s clear that the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree. Such is the case of Austin Prock, who finished his first season in Top Fuel by earning NHRA’s rookie of the year honors. The younger Prock finished eighth in the Top Fuel season standings, including one win and five semifinal finishes driving for John Force Racing. Ironically, he finished one spot higher than three-time Top Fuel champ Antron Brown, who had a rough season, finishing ninth in the standings, with no wins, two runner-up showings and reached the semifinals just five times.

Follow @JerryBonkowski