After Playboy CFO Linda Havard recapped the company’s Q4 woes, Bob Meyers, EVP, president for Media, sought to convince listeners on the earnings call that by combining print and digital, Playboy will help solve the troubles faced by all mags these days.
Meyers attempted to put Playboy’s situation in context, by citing dismal industry figures: “The biggest challenge is restructuring our monthly magazine and we’re not alone in that. Print and digital have always been collaborative at Playboy (NYSE: PLA). But rather than developing content for two different sides, we’ll be adapting content for print and online and mobile. While long-form articles tend to work best for the print magazine, much of what we offer works best in a combination between print and online, such as humor and photos. Plus, that will present advertisers much more opportunity.”
– Sale or merger? Ready to listen: During the start of the Q&A, Interim CEO Jerry Kern was asked if the company was open to a sale. Since Christie Hefner is no longer at the head of Playboy Enterprises after exiting as CEO and Chairman in December. Kern simply said said that considering the current situation, Playboy would be willing to entertain reasonable offers and left it at that. More after the jump.
– No bailout for Bunnies: Kern was insistent that Playboy will move back to profitability, but he was unable to offer any concrete idea as to when. Nevertheless, the company is doing better than most major banks, Kern said, adding, unprompted, before the Q&A, “We are not seeking and will not need a government bailout.”
– Christie’s severance: With the company’s market cap hovering around just $50 million, Kern was asked how Playboy could justify paying Christie Hefner a $2 million severance package. While she was entitled to only $1.6 million in severance, the board simply felt that, in light of her 20 years at the head, that she deserved more, Kern said. “The board decided that providing the $2 million in severance wasn’t a violation of our fiduciary responsibilities.” The severance has already been paid in full, he said. In the meantime, Playboy retained an executive search firm last month to find Hefner’s successor. No word on when they expect to fill that role permanently. Kern then offered some Playboy humor: “I’m starting to get used to ‘interim’ in front of my name. I hope my wife doesn’t start getting too used the title, though.”