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The Kelsey Report® Advisory

Dex Media Leads Incumbents in 2003, Sees Weaker 2004
Charles Laughlin , 3/26/2004

SUMMARY: Dex Media reported its 2003 results March 19, the last of the major U.S. incumbent publishers to share its financial results for the year. Dex managed to eke out a respectable 2.6 percent growth rate, to US$1.63 billion. Dex Media's growth rate compares favorably to the other major U.S. incumbents, which generated a combined negative 1.7 percent growth rate in 2003. Dex attributes its relatively strong performance to a number of factors, including strong growth in awareness products (covers, tabs, spines, etc.), strong growth in Spanish-language products, and good results in White Pages advertising and print-Internet bundles.

What is clear from the Dex results is that new products generating strong incremental revenue are essential for any large incumbent publisher to sustain growth. Dex also benefits from having fewer highly competitive markets than some of its peers, although that situation is changing as Verizon Information Services and others continue their expansion efforts.

For 2004, Dex Media CEO George Burnett told the financial community to expect growth rates a bit lower than 2003, due to the lagging impact of the economy on printed directories. He did outline several reasons why Dex is well positioned to continue growing in the future, including a new Amdocs system being implemented in 2004 that offers more state-of-the-art billing and pricing capability, supporting pricing by heading. Burnett also pointed to Dex's new online directory platform, which offers free text search and represents a significant forward advance for the Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) category.

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