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Wachovia Downgrades Clear Channel

Clear Channel (CCU) posted a 46% lower 4Q EBITDA on 8% lower revenues. Wachovia downgraded the stock to buy from strong buy.

Analyst Jim Boyle says the company's $345M 4Q EBITDA missed both his and the Wall Street consensus estimates. He notes management says the main culprit in the shortfall was $80 million in charges from reorganization, severance, and new hires charges. Boyle sees $1.55 2002 free cash flow vs. the company's $1.65-$1.80 guidance. He believes the 4Q miss, even without non-recurring charge, will put the stock price -- and the company's near-term prospects -- under a cloud. However, Boyle says that if pacings improve and a 2Q upturn in outdoor advertising seems more likely in the next several weeks, then Wall Street's perception and catalysts should change enough for him to be more positive on the stock. He cut his $62 price target to $58.

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