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UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

Form 10-K

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended: December 31, 2020

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Commissions file no. 1-33741

Picture 2

A. H. Belo Corporation

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Texas

38-3765318

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

P. O. Box 224866, Dallas, Texas 75222-4866

(214) 977-7342

(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

Trading Symbol

Name of each exchange on which registered

Series A Common Stock, $0.01 par value

AHC

New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

Series B Common Stock, $0.01 par value (Title of class)

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Act.     Yes      No 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act.     Yes     No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.      Yes     No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).      Yes     No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large Accelerated Filer:  

Accelerated Filer:  

Non-Accelerated Filer:  

Smaller Reporting Company:  

Emerging Growth Company:  

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).      Yes      No 

The aggregate market value of the registrant’s voting stock held by nonaffiliates on June 30, 2020, based on the closing price for the registrant’s Series A Common Stock on such date as reported on the New York Stock Exchange, was approximately $32,154,654.*

Shares of Common Stock outstanding at March 4, 2021: 21,410,423 shares (consisting of 18,941,420 shares of Series A Common Stock and 2,469,003 shares of Series B Common Stock).

* For purposes of this calculation, the market value of a share of Series B Common Stock was assumed to be the same as a share of Series A Common Stock into which it is convertible.

Documents incorporated by reference:

Selected designated portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement, relating to the Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 13, 2021, are incorporated by reference into Parts II and III of this Annual Report.


A. H. Belo Corporation 2020 Annual Report on Form 10-K


 

A. H. BELO CORPORATION

FORM 10-K

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

Page

PART I

Item 1.

Business

PAGE 3

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

PAGE 8

Item 2.

Properties

PAGE 8

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

PAGE 8

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

PAGE 8

PART II

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

PAGE 9

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

PAGE 10

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

PAGE 20

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

PAGE 20

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

PAGE 20

PART III

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

PAGE 22

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

PAGE 22

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

PAGE 22

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

PAGE 22

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

PAGE 22

 

 

 

PART IV

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

PAGE 23

 

Signatures

PAGE 26

 

 

 

 

INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

 

 

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

PAGE 28

 

Consolidated Statements of Operations for the Years Ended December 31, 2020 and 2019

PAGE 30

 

Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income (Loss) for the Years Ended December 31, 2020 and 2019

PAGE 31

 

Consolidated Balance Sheets as of December 31, 2020 and 2019

PAGE 32

 

Consolidated Statements of Shareholders’ Equity for the Years Ended December 31, 2020 and 2019

PAGE 33

 

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the Years Ended December 31, 2020 and 2019

PAGE 34

 

Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements

PAGE 35

 

A. H. Belo Corporation 2020 Annual Report on Form 10-K


Table of Contents

PART I

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT CONCERNING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K concerning A. H. Belo Corporation’s business outlook or future economic performance, anticipated profitability, revenues, expenses, dividends, capital expenditures, investments, dispositions, impairments, business initiatives, acquisitions, pension plan contributions and obligations, real estate sales, working capital, future financings and other financial and non-financial items that are not historical facts, including statements of the Company’s expectations relating to its plans to regain NYSE compliance, are “forward-looking statements” as the term is defined under applicable federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those statements. Such risks, trends and uncertainties are, in most instances, beyond the Company’s control, and include changes in advertising demand and other economic conditions; consumers’ tastes; newsprint prices; program costs; labor relations; cybersecurity incidents; technological obsolescence; and the current and future impacts of the COVID-19 public health crisis. Among other risks, there can be no guarantee that the board of directors will approve a quarterly dividend in future quarters. Forward-looking statements, which are as of the date of this filing, are not updated to reflect events or circumstances after the date of the statement.

All dollar amounts presented herein the Annual Report on Form 10-K, except share and per share amounts, are presented in thousands, unless the context indicates otherwise.

Item 1. Business

A. H. Belo Corporation and subsidiaries are referred to collectively herein as “A. H. Belo” or the “Company.” The Company, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is the leading local news and information publishing company in Texas. The Company has a growing presence in emerging media and digital marketing, and maintains capabilities related to commercial printing, distribution and direct mail. A. H. Belo delivers news and information in innovative ways to a broad range of audiences with diverse interests and lifestyles.

A. H. Belo Corporation was formed in February 2008 through a spin-off from its former parent company and is registered on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE trading symbol: AHC). The Company publishes The Dallas Morning News (www.dallasnews.com), Texas’ leading newspaper and winner of nine Pulitzer Prizes, and various niche publications targeting specific audiences. Its newspaper operations also provide commercial printing and distribution services to several large national newspapers. In addition, the Company has the capabilities of a full-service strategy, creative and media agency that focuses on strategic and digital marketing, and data intelligence that provide a measurable return on investment to its clients.

Business Overview

The Company’s goal is to create value for investors by being the premier provider of relevant and original local journalism in North Texas so citizens can make informed choices about their lives and the life of the communities in which they live. This commitment to excellence in journalism attracts and retains subscribers to the print edition, the digital site, and applications. The Company redesigned and expanded its website platforms and mobile applications in 2019 to provide a better customer experience with its digital news and information reporting.

Since the Company’s spin-off in 2008, the print media industry has encountered continuous declines in revenue primarily due to the secular shift of readers and advertisers to digital platforms. The Company has sought to limit its exposure to these industry risks through greater development of its digital platforms for delivery of news and advertising, and leveraging its brand and personnel to enhance its media agency solutions. However, these improvements may not result in a sufficient increase in revenue to offset the declines the Company is experiencing in its traditional print media business.

In the third quarter of 2019, in conjunction with a strategic change to move to a single decision-making reporting structure and based on how the Company’s chief operating decision-maker makes decisions about allocating resources and assessing performance, the Company determined it has one reportable segment. With this reorganization, the Company enhanced its capabilities to provide customers with strategic, creative and media marketing solutions with a focus on strategic and digital marketing, and data intelligence that provide a measurable return on investment to its clients.

The Company operates The Dallas Morning News (www.dallasnews.com), Texas’ leading newspaper and winner of nine Pulitzer Prizes, and various niche publications targeting specific audiences. These operations generate revenue from sales of advertising within the Company’s newspaper and digital platforms, subscriptions and retail sales of its newspapers, commercial printing and distribution services primarily related to national newspapers, and preprint advertising.


A. H. Belo Corporation 2020 Annual Report on Form 10-K

PAGE 3


Table of Contents

The Dallas Morning News’ first edition was published on October 1, 1885. The News is one of the leading metropolitan newspapers in the United States. The newspaper is distributed primarily in Dallas County and 10 surrounding counties. This coverage area represents one of the most populous and fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. The News has been awarded nine Pulitzer Prizes for news reporting, editorial writing and photography. The News also publishes Briefing, a newspaper distributed two days per week at no charge to nonsubscribers in select coverage areas, and Al Dia, an award-winning Spanish-language newspaper published on Wednesdays and distributed at no charge to households in select coverage areas. Unless otherwise noted, the financial and operating results of all publications are reported as The Dallas Morning News.

Businesses producing and providing services within the print and newspaper industry have encountered significant declines in revenue as a result of increasing use of the internet for delivery of information. These businesses have been challenged to find alternative solutions to offset the loss of revenue. The majority of revenues within the newspaper industry were historically generated from display and classified advertisements followed by revenues from subscriptions and retail sales of newspapers. Revenues from subscriptions and retail sales of newspapers have experienced greater resilience as readers have been willing to pay higher prices for the product, which has substantially offset lower circulation volumes. Since the spin-off from its former parent company in 2008, the Company has faced ongoing revenue declines primarily in print advertising and expects these trends to continue.

In addition to traditional print advertising, the Company has the ability to provide full-service agency capabilities including strategy, creative and media management with a focus on strategic and digital marketing, and data intelligence that provide a measurable return on investment to its clients. Through the full-service capabilities, we are able to offer businesses comprehensive, strategic and creative marketing solutions which allow our clients to connect with their business, their brand and their audiences. The Company has aligned management and its sales teams to provide a cross-functional integrated approach to maximize the development of these businesses. Digital marketing services are provided through the following service offerings:

Multi-channel marketing solutions through subscription sales of the Company’s cloud-based software, allowing customers to manage and individualize their marketing campaigns. In addition, multi-channel marketing services are provided to customers without access to the proprietary software.

Digital and marketing analytics, search engine marketing and other marketing related services to businesses across the United States.

Social media account management and content marketing services principally for businesses in the North Texas region.

Multi-channel digital advertising and marketing services campaigns for customers, allowing them to target demographic audiences using data analytics and determine the delivery media such as email campaigns, banner impressions or video views on third-party websites.

Marketing and promotional products for businesses to supply to employees and customers.

The following describes the Company’s various revenue streams.

Advertising and Marketing Services Revenue - Advertising and marketing services revenue accounted for approximately 47 percent of total revenue for 2020. The Company has a comprehensive portfolio of print and digital advertising products, which include display, classified, preprint and digital advertising. Display revenue results from sales of advertising space within the Company’s core newspapers and niche publications to local, regional or national businesses with local operations, affiliates or resellers. Classified revenue, which includes automotive, real estate, employment, obituaries and other, results from sales of advertising space in the classified and other sections of the Company’s newspapers. Preprint revenue results from sales of preprinted advertisements or circulars inserted into the Company’s core newspapers and niche publications, or distributed by mail or third-party distributors to households in targeted areas in order to provide total market coverage for advertisers. The Company’s capabilities allow its advertisers to target preprint distribution selectively at the sub-zip code level in order to optimize coverage for the advertisers’ locations.

The Company’s digital advertising and marketing services revenue consists of strategic marketing management, consulting, creative services, targeted and multi-channel (programmatic) advertising placed on third-party websites, digital sales of banner, classified and native advertisements on the Company’s news and entertainment-related websites and mobile apps, social media management, search optimization, direct mail and the sale of promotional materials.


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Circulation Revenue - Circulation revenue accounted for approximately 42 percent of total revenue for 2020 and includes subscriptions and single copy sales related to the Company’s core newspapers in print and digital formats. A. H. Belo’s steadfast commitment to producing superior, unduplicated local journalism enables the Company’s newspapers to charge premium subscription rates. The Dallas Morning News’ goal is to maximize the amount of recurring revenue from consumers of the Company’s print and digital products. The Company continuously assesses the journalism provided to subscribers and their willingness and ability to pay higher rates by geographic area. Each year since 2008, the Company has implemented effective rate increases to select subscribers or retailers. A digital replica version of The Dallas Morning News is offered on dallasnews.com for subscribers to purchase if they prefer to consume news through a digital device in a more traditional format. A. H. Belo’s newspapers and the newspaper industry as a whole are challenged to maintain and grow print circulation volume. To the extent circulation volume declines cannot be offset by rate increases, the Company will realize lower circulation revenue. Circulation volume declines could also result in lower rates and volumes for advertising revenue.

The Company’s news websites, including dallasnews.com and aldiadallas.com, are the leading English and Spanish news and entertainment digital platforms in the North Texas region. The news websites offer late-breaking and other up-to-date news coverage, user-generated content, advertising, e-commerce and other services. Readers can access news content across multiple digital platforms and obtain relevant local customized content and advertising. The Company’s journalists have expanded their reach and deepened their engagement with audiences by delivering news and content through social media platforms such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter, which direct traffic to the core websites. The Company’s success depends to a significant extent on its ability to develop and manage the digital business in response to the changes in consumers’ preferences and behaviors, as well as changes to advertising expenditures, as described above.

Printing, Distribution and Other Revenue - Printing, distribution and other revenue accounted for approximately 11 percent of total revenue for 2020 and includes commercial printing, distribution, and shared mail packaging services. The Company’s commercial printing and distribution services leverage the capacity of its production and distribution assets. The Company believes the incremental revenue from these services allows a greater return from the Company’s operating assets.

Commercial printing and delivery services are provided for certain national newspapers. A shared mail packaging business is operated in Phoenix, Arizona, providing mailed advertisements for business customers.

Raw Materials and Distribution

The basic material used in publishing newspapers is newsprint. The Company entered into a three-year Paper Supply Agreement, effective in August 2019, with Gannett Supply Corporation (“Gannett”), a newsprint broker, which will be the Company’s sole supplier of newsprint from designated newsprint suppliers at market-based prices during the term of the agreement, except in certain specified instances. The agreement is renewable for successive one-year terms upon mutual agreement of the parties, and is terminable by either party on 180 days prior written notice. This agreement allows the Company access to multiple mills at competitive pricing. Prior to the Gannett agreement, the Company’s newsprint was obtained through a purchasing consortium. Management believes the Gannett agreement provides adequate sources of newsprint to meet the Company’s current needs. Significant increases in newsprint costs or the Company’s inability to obtain an adequate supply of newsprint in the future could adversely affect its financial condition and results of operations.

During 2020, Company operations consumed 9,781 metric tons of newsprint at an average cost of $549 per metric ton. Consumption of newsprint in 2019 was 11,619 metric tons at an average cost of $751 per metric ton.

The Company’s newspapers and other commercial print products are produced at its facility in Plano, Texas. Distribution of printed products to subscribers, retailers and newsstands is made under terms of agreements with third-party distributors. The Company believes a sufficient number of third-party distributors exist to allow uninterrupted distribution of the Company’s products. However, if third-party service providers face financial difficulties or terminate their relationship with the Company, this could adversely affect the Company’s ability to satisfy its customers or operate the business, and could affect results of operations.


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Competitive Strengths and Challenges

The Company’s strengths include:

the largest news-gathering operation in North Texas

the opportunity to build valuable first-party data sets about consumers in North Texas due to the millions of unique visitors who come to the Company’s websites and mobile applications monthly

the ability to develop innovative new product and service offerings which leverage the Company’s brand equity, existing content, distribution platforms, technologies and relationships

the ability to provide clients with full-service agency capabilities including strategy, creative and media management which allow our clients to connect with their business, their brand and their audiences

sufficient liquidity to allow the Company to invest opportunistically in the Company’s business

an affluent and educated demographic base in its market

the ability to market print or digital products and services to large and targeted audiences at low marginal costs

a large sales force with knowledge of the marketplaces in which the Company conducts its business, and relationships with current and potential print and digital advertising clients

the ability to manage operating costs effectively according to market pressures

The Company’s challenges include:

timely growth of revenue and profits related to the Company’s agency and digital services and digital subscriptions businesses that would provide for an offset to declines in revenue and profits related to the Company’s print advertising and print circulation

operating in a competitive environment with increased competition from other media, particularly internet-based media provided to customers at no cost

effective monetization of locally-created online content on the Company’s websites while balancing the impact of potential lower traffic volumes with an established metered-based model

In response to the decline in print revenue, the Company has developed agency and digital advertising capabilities through multiple media channels. The Company leverages its news content to improve engagement on the Company’s digital platforms that results in increased digital subscriptions and associated revenue. The Company also continues to diversify its revenue base by leveraging the available capacity of its existing assets to provide print and distribution services for newspapers and other customers requiring these services, by introducing new advertising and marketing services products, and by increasing circulation prices.

Because of declining print circulation, the Company has developed broad digital strategies designed to provide readers with multiple platforms for obtaining online access to local news. The Company redesigned and expanded its website platforms and mobile applications in third quarter of 2019 to provide a better customer experience with its digital news and information content. The Company continues to obtain additional key demographic data from readers, which allows the Company to provide content desired by readers and to modify marketing and distribution strategies to target and reach audiences valued by advertisers. The Company has access to programmatic digital advertising platform that provides digital ad placement and targeting efficiencies and increases utilization of digital inventory within the Company’s websites and external websites.

In addition to the general trends adversely affecting the publishing industry, the Company experienced unfavorable impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in the latter part of the first quarter of 2020. For further information regarding the impact of COVID-19 and actions taken by the Company in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including with respect to its employees, see Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

Strategy

A. H. Belo is committed to producing quality journalism for its communities and providing innovative marketing and digital advertising solutions for its customers through its agency capabilities, while creating value for shareholders over the long-term through stock price appreciation and dividends. The Company continuously evaluates its operations and investments against various economic factors to determine the appropriate current strategies.

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The Company is committed to maintaining the leading digital and print platforms for delivering news of the highest quality and reliability in the North Texas area, as well as creating and developing innovative print and digital advertising marketing service capabilities that address the needs of clients and advertisers.

The Company seeks to achieve these objectives through the following strategies:

produce quality local journalism at scale, distributed through digital platforms that improve user engagement and result in increased digital subscriptions and customer retention

develop new ways to optimize advertising dollars on the Company’s digital platforms

grow recurring advertising and digital marketing services revenue through a client-first approach and enhanced full-service agency capabilities

improve print revenues and increase utilization of operating assets by maintaining profitable print and distribution services to third parties

continue to align costs with revenue, maintain strong liquidity to support future business and product initiatives, and provide flexibility to meet strategic investment opportunities and other cash flow requirements

Competition

A. H. Belo’s newspapers, niche publications and related websites primarily serve audiences in the North Texas area. The Company competes for advertising revenue for its newspapers and websites with other print and agency companies. Advertising revenues for the Company’s newspapers and websites are responsive to circulation and traffic volumes, demographics of their subscriber bases, advertising results, rates and customer service. Advertising on digital platforms is highly competitive and largely dominated by large internet companies. As advertisers reallocate marketing expenditures from print to digital channels, the Company believes its strong local brand and its full-service agency capabilities will allow it to offer exclusive advertising and digital marketing solutions to local businesses on a competitive scale.

The Dallas Morning News has the highest paid print circulation in the North Texas area while competing with one other metropolitan newspaper in parts of its geographic market. Print circulation revenues are challenged primarily due to free and readily-accessible news, entertainment, advertising and other content available through the internet. This secular shift from print to digital media continues as consumer lifestyles embrace technological advancements, particularly with mobile devices, which provide access to a wide variety of digital news and advertising alternatives, including news and social media websites, online advertising networks and exchanges, online classified services, and direct email advertising. Competition for readers is primarily based on mode of delivery, quality of the Company’s journalism, price, timeliness of interaction with audiences, and customer service. News and other digital content produced by the Company’s newspapers and niche publications are available via its websites, mobile applications and through email. The Company offers competitive technology for accessing digital content on mobile devices and via personal computers. Journalists engage online readers through blogs, Twitter and other social media posts.

Seasonality

A. H. Belo’s advertising revenues are subject to moderate seasonality, with print and digital advertising revenue typically higher in the fourth calendar quarter of each year because of the holiday shopping season. However, in the fourth quarter of 2020 print advertising revenue was adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The level of print and digital advertising sales in any period may also be affected by advertisers’ decisions to increase or decrease their advertising expenditures in response to anticipated consumer demand and general economic conditions.

Employees

As of December 31, 2020, the Company had 743 employees of which approximately 18 percent were represented by a labor union, pending contract finalization. The Company is in the process of negotiating an initial collective bargaining agreement and it cannot predict the timing or the outcome of these negotiations.

Available Information

A. H. Belo maintains its corporate website at www.ahbelo.com, which makes available, free of charge, this Annual Report on Form 10-K, its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, its Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports, as filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), as amended, as soon as reasonably practicable after the reports are electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). 

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Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

Item 2. Properties

Operations

Ownership

Location

Corporate and The Dallas Morning News

Leased

Dallas, Texas

Printing facilities

Owned

Plano, Texas

AHC Dallas Properties, LLC

Leased

Denton, Texas

Sales operations

Leased

Dallas, Texas

Shared mail packaging office and warehouse

Leased

Phoenix, Arizona

In addition to the properties above, the Company has various leased locations it uses for news reporting and the distribution of the Company’s publications, and it leases property in Tulsa, Oklahoma used for sales operations. As of December 31, 2020, in aggregate, the Company leased facilities for current use consisting of approximately 293,000 square feet and owns property that includes land and a building consisting of approximately 1,258,000 square feet.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings

A number of legal proceedings are pending against A. H. Belo. In the opinion of management, liabilities, if any, arising from these legal proceedings would not have a material adverse effect on A. H. Belo’s results of operations, liquidity or financial condition. A. H. Belo and its subsidiaries may be subject to litigation, including matters relating to alleged libel or defamation, governmental proceedings and investigations. Adverse determinations in any such matters could require A. H. Belo to make monetary payments or result in other sanctions or findings that could adversely affect the Company’s business, financial condition and results of operations. Insurance coverage, if any, may not be adequate to cover all costs and/or losses. In some instances, the Company may have a contractual obligation from a third-party to indemnify liabilities related to litigation or governmental investigation, but if the third-party fails to indemnify us, the Company would be responsible for monetary damages.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

None.


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PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

The Company’s authorized common equity consists of 125,000,000 shares of common stock, par value $.01 per share. The Company has two series of common stock outstanding, Series A and Series B. Shares of the two series are identical in all respects except as noted herein. Shares of Series B common stock are entitled to 10 votes per share on all matters submitted to a vote of shareholders, and shares of Series A common stock are entitled to one vote per share. Transferability of the Series B common stock is limited to family members and affiliated entities of the holder. Shares of Series B common stock are convertible at any time on a one-for-one basis into shares of Series A common stock and upon a transfer, other than as described above, shares of Series B common stock automatically convert into Series A common stock. Shares of the Company’s Series A common stock are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE trading symbol: AHC) and began trading on February 11, 2008. There is no established public trading market for shares of Series B common stock.

The declaration of dividends is subject to the discretion of A. H. Belo’s board of directors. The determination as to the amount declared and its timing depends on, among other things, A. H. Belo’s results of operations and financial condition, capital requirements, other contractual restrictions, prospects, applicable law, general economic and business conditions and other future factors that are deemed relevant. The board of directors generally declares dividends during the quarter preceding its stated measurement and payment dates. A. H. Belo cannot provide any assurance that future dividends will be declared and paid due to the factors discussed in the “Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The table below sets forth the high and low sales prices reported on the New York Stock Exchange for a share of the Company’s common stock and the recorded cash dividends per share declared for the past two years.

Stock Price

Dividends

High

Low

Close

Declared*

2020

Fourth quarter

$

1.60

$

1.32

$

1.51

$

0.04

Third quarter

1.85

1.33

1.41

0.04

Second quarter

2.09

1.29

1.73

0.08

First quarter

3.05

1.45

1.72

0.08

2019

Fourth quarter

$

3.83

$

2.75

$

2.80

$

0.08

Third quarter

3.78

3.35

3.64

0.08

Second quarter

4.08

3.50

3.69

0.08

First quarter

4.47

3.36

3.72

0.08

*Cash dividends are recorded in the period declared. This table reflects the period the dividends were paid.

The closing price of the Company’s Series A common stock as reported on the New York Stock Exchange on March 4, 2021, was $2.06. The approximate number of shareholders of record of the Company’s Series A and Series B common stock at the close of business on March 4, 2021, was 342 and 144, respectively.

Equity Compensation Plan Information

The information set forth under the heading “Equity Compensation Plan Information” contained in the definitive Proxy Statement for the Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders, to be held on May 13, 2021, is incorporated herein by reference.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

The Company repurchased shares of its common stock pursuant to a publicly announced share repurchase program authorized by the Company’s board of directors. During 2019, the Company purchased 216,490 shares of its Series A common stock at a total cost of $842. The agreement to repurchase the Company’s stock expired in the fourth quarter of 2019 and was not renewed. All purchases were made through open market transactions and were recorded as treasury stock.

Sales of Unregistered Securities

During 2020 and 2019, shares of the Company’s Series B common stock in the amounts of 225 and 247, respectively, were converted, on a one-for-one basis, into shares of Series A common stock. The Company did not register the issuance of these securities under the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) in reliance upon the exemption under Section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act.

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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

A. H. Belo intends for the discussion of its financial condition and results of operations that follows to provide information that will assist in understanding its financial statements, the changes in certain key items in those statements from period to period, and the primary factors that accounted for those changes, as well as how certain accounting principles, policies and estimates affect its financial statements. The following information should be read in conjunction with the Company’s consolidated financial statements and related notes filed as part of this report. All dollar amounts presented herein, except share and per share amounts, are in thousands, unless the context indicates otherwise.

This section and other parts of this Annual Report on Form 10-K contain certain forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those statements. See the Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements of this Annual Report for further discussion.

OVERVIEW

A. H. Belo Corporation (“A. H. Belo” or the “Company”), headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is the leading local news and information publishing company in Texas. The Company has a growing presence in emerging media and digital marketing, and maintains capabilities related to commercial printing, distribution and direct mail. A. H. Belo delivers news and information in innovative ways to a broad range of audiences with diverse interests and lifestyles.

The Company publishes The Dallas Morning News (www.dallasnews.com), Texas’ leading newspaper and winner of nine Pulitzer Prizes, and various niche publications targeting specific audiences. Its newspaper operations also provide commercial printing and distribution services to several large national newspapers. In addition, the Company has the capabilities of a full-service strategy, creative and media agency that focuses on strategic and digital marketing, and data intelligence that provide a measurable return on investment to its clients.

In the third quarter of 2019, in conjunction with a strategic change to move to a single decision-making reporting structure and based on how the Company’s chief operating decision-maker makes decisions about allocating resources and assessing performance, the Company determined it has one reportable segment. With this reorganization, the Company has focused on enhancing its capabilities to provide customers with strategic, creative and media marketing solutions.

Currently, the rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19 pandemic) globally has resulted in increased travel restrictions, and disruption and shutdown of businesses. The outbreak and any preventative or protective actions that the Company has taken and may continue to take, or may be imposed on the Company by governmental intervention, in respect of the pandemic may result in a period of disruption to the Company’s financial reporting capabilities, its printing operations, and its operations generally. COVID-19 is impacting, and may continue to impact, the Company’s customers, distribution partners, advertisers, production facilities, and third parties, and could result in additional loss of advertising revenue or supply chain disruption. Media was designated an essential business, therefore the Company’s operations have continued throughout the pandemic. While digital subscriptions grew in 2020, the Company experienced decreased demand for its print and digital advertising. As a result, the Company implemented measures to reduce costs and preserve cash flow. These measures include reduction in the quarterly dividend rate, decreases in employee compensation, as well as reductions in discretionary spending. In addition, the Company benefited from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). However, these measures may not be sufficient to fully offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Company’s business and, as such, the coronavirus is likely to continue to have an adverse impact on the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition at least for the near term.


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Overview of Significant Transactions

Operating results for 2020 reflect continued challenges in print advertising revenue trends, primarily due to volume and rate declines, partially offset by an increase in the Company’s digital-only subscriptions revenue. In addition, the Company did experience declines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic beginning late in the first quarter. The Company continues its efforts to diversify revenues through greater development of its digital platforms for delivery of news and advertising, and leveraging its brand and personnel to enhance its media agency solutions. However, there is no guarantee the Company will be able to generate enough digital revenue or margin to offset the loss of print advertising and circulation revenue and margin.

During the year ended December 31, 2020, the Company performed a review of potential impairment indicators for its long-lived assets, including property, plant and equipment, and right-of-use assets. The Company determined there were indicators of possible impairment and conducted a long-lived assets impairment review. Upon completion, it was determined the undiscounted cash flows including from ultimate disposition of the assets exceeded the carrying value of the asset group, thus no impairment was indicated. See Note 5 – Leases for additional information on right-of-use asset impairment.

In the third quarter of 2019, in conjunction with the Company’s organizational changes, the Company conducted an impairment review of goodwill and long-lived assets. As a result, the Company’s goodwill was fully impaired in the third quarter of 2019.

In response to COVID-19, the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act provides numerous tax provisions and other stimulus measures. The Company has benefited from the temporary five-year net operating loss carryback provision and the technical correction for qualified leasehold improvements, which changes 39-year property to 15-year property, eligible for 100 percent tax bonus depreciation. Applying the technical correction to 2018 has resulted in reporting additional tax depreciation of $1,017 and increased the 2018 net operating loss to approximately $6,829. The loss was carried back against 2014 taxes paid at the federal statutory rate of 35 percent that was previously in effect, resulting in a cash refund of $2,425, including interest, received on October 2, 2020. Additionally, The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “Act”), which includes The COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, was passed and signed into law the last week of 2020. Among others, the provisions in the Act included items such as guidance on expenses associated with forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans, business meals deductions, individual tax rebates and unemployment benefits. The Company did not avail itself of any of the items contained in the new Act.

Quarterly dividends returned $5,139 and $6,876 to shareholders in 2020 and 2019, respectively. On December 3, 2020, the Company’s board of directors declared a $0.04 per share dividend to shareholders of record as of the close of business on February 12, 2021, paid on March 5, 2021.

In April 2019, the Company completed an asset acquisition. The new entity Cubic Creative, Inc. (“Cubic Creative”) is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This acquisition added creative strategy services, which complement service offerings currently available to A. H. Belo clients. The expected benefit from providing these additional services was attributed to goodwill, all of which is expected to be deductible for tax purposes. Operating results of the businesses acquired have been included in the Consolidated Statements of Operations from the initial acquisition date forward.

In May 2019, the Company completed the sale of the real estate assets in downtown Dallas, Texas, previously used as the Company’s headquarters for a sale price of $28,000. The sale price consisted of $4,597 cash received, after selling costs of approximately $1,000, and a two-year seller-financed promissory note of $22,400, secured by a first lien deed of trust covering the property. In the second quarter of 2019, the Company recorded a pretax gain of $25,908. Due to the offset by existing net operating loss carryforwards, the Company did not record any current tax expense related to the sale transaction. As a direct result of COVID-19 uncertainties, on April 3, 2020, the Company entered into a board-approved amendment to the two-year seller-financed promissory note. The second promissory note in the principal amount of $375 is secured by a second lien deed of trust covering the property and due June 30, 2021. The second promissory note includes a deferred interest payment that was due April 1, 2020, and a 2019 real property tax reconciliation payment due from the Purchaser. While it is anticipated that future interest payments will be made on a timely basis there is not a guarantee that the Purchaser will perform. The timing in general of commercial development may have been impacted by the pandemic, and thus capital constraints in commercial real estate markets may exist. Management continues to closely monitor the collectability of the notes and the value of the underlying collateral. Continued economic and other effects of the pandemic could impact the timing of payment or realization of the notes.

In 2019, the Company purchased 216,490 shares of its Series A common stock through open market transactions for $842. However, the agreement to repurchase the Company’s stock expired in the fourth quarter of 2019 and was not renewed. These purchases are recorded as treasury stock.


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RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Consolidated Results of Operations

This section contains discussion and analysis of net operating revenue, operating costs and expense and other information relevant to an understanding of results of operations for 2020 and 2019. In the third quarter of 2019, in conjunction with the Companies organizational changes, the Company determined it has one reportable segment (see Note 2 – Segment Reporting). The Company determined that disaggregating revenue by print and digital products best aligns with the Company’s structure.

The table below sets forth the components of A. H. Belo’s operating income (loss).

Years Ended December 31,

2020

Percentage
Change

2019

Advertising and marketing services

$

72,214

(24.7)

%

$

95,856

Circulation

64,935

(4.9)

%

68,260

Printing, distribution and other

17,150

(11.8)

%

19,447

Total Net Operating Revenue

154,299

(15.9)

%

183,563

Total Operating Costs and Expense

169,872

(2.4)

%

174,024

Operating Income (Loss)

$

(15,573)

(263.3)

%

$

9,539

Traditionally, the Company’s primary revenues are generated from advertising within its core newspapers, niche publications and related websites and from subscription and single copy sales of its printed newspapers. As a result of competitive and economic conditions, the newspaper industry has faced a significant revenue decline over the past decade. Therefore, the Company has sought to diversify its revenues through development and investment in new product offerings, increased circulation rates and leveraging of its existing assets to offer cost efficient commercial printing and distribution services to its local markets. The Company continually evaluates the overall performance of its core products to ensure existing assets are deployed adequately to maximize return.

The Company’s advertising revenue from its core newspapers continues to be adversely affected by the shift of advertiser spending to other forms of media and the increased accessibility of free online news content, as well as news content from other sources, which resulted in declines in advertising and paid print circulation volumes and revenue. Decreases in print display and classified categories are indicative of continuing trends by advertisers towards digital platforms, which are widely available from many sources. In the current environment, companies are allocating more of their advertising spending towards programmatic channels that provide digital advertising on multiple platforms with enhanced technology for targeted delivery and measurement. In addition, the Company did experience declines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic beginning late in the first quarter.

In response to the decline in print revenue, the Company has developed agency and digital advertising capabilities through multiple media channels. The Company leverages its news content to improve engagement on the Company’s digital platforms that results in increased digital subscriptions and associated revenue. The Company also continues to diversify its revenue base by leveraging the available capacity of its existing assets to provide print and distribution services for newspapers and other customers requiring these services, by introducing new advertising and marketing services products, and by increasing circulation prices.

Because of declining print circulation, the Company has developed broad digital strategies designed to provide readers with multiple platforms for obtaining online access to local news. The Company redesigned and expanded its website platforms and mobile applications in 2019 to provide a better customer experience with its digital news and information content.  The Company continues to obtain additional key demographic data from readers, which allows the Company to provide content desired by readers and to modify marketing and distribution strategies to target and reach audiences valued by advertisers. The Company has access to programmatic digital advertising platform that provides digital ad placement and targeting efficiencies and increases utilization of digital inventory within the Company’s websites and external websites.


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Advertising and marketing services revenue

Advertising and marketing services revenue was 46.8 percent and 52.2 percent of total revenue for 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Years Ended December 31,

2020

Percentage
Change

2019

Print advertising

$

46,318

(25.6)

%

$

62,256

Digital advertising and marketing services

25,896

(22.9)

%

33,600

Advertising and Marketing Services

$

72,214

(24.7)

%

$

95,856

Print advertising

Print advertising is comprised of display, classified and preprint advertising revenue. Display and classified print revenue primarily represents sales of advertising space within the Company’s core and niche newspapers. As advertisers continue to diversify marketing budgets to incorporate more and varied avenues of reaching consumers, traditional display and classified advertising continues to decline. Display and classified print revenue decreased $9,637 and $3,635 in 2020 and 2019, respectively, primarily due to a revenue decline in most advertising categories, with the largest declines in the retail categories. In addition to the general trends adversely impacting the publishing industry, the Company experienced unfavorable impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in the latter part of the first quarter of 2020.

Preprint revenue primarily reflects preprinted advertisements inserted into the Company’s core newspapers and niche publications, or distributed to non-subscribers through the mail. Revenue decreased $6,301 and $3,327 in 2020 and 2019, respectively, due to a volume decline consistent with the decline in circulation volumes discussed below, which were significantly affected in 2020 by the pandemic.

Digital advertising and marketing services

Digital advertising and marketing services revenue consists of strategic marketing management, consulting, creative services, targeted and multi-channel (programmatic) advertising placed on third-party websites, digital sales of banner, classified and native advertisements on the Company’s news and entertainment-related websites and mobile apps, social media management, search optimization, direct mail and the sale of promotional materials. The Company’s auto sales division offered targeted advertising to auto dealerships primarily in the North Texas region desiring to advertise their inventory on the cars.com platform through September 30, 2019.

Revenue decreased $7,704 and $2,610 in 2020 and 2019, respectively, primarily due to the cars.com agreement ending, and a lower volume of programmatic sales placed on third-party websites and online advertisements on dallasnews.com.

Circulation revenue

Circulation revenue was 42.1 percent and 37.2 percent of total revenue for 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Years Ended December 31,

2020

Percentage
Change

2019

Print circulation

$

58,415

(7.7)

%

$

63,321

Digital circulation

6,520

32.0

%

4,939

Circulation

$

64,935

(4.9)

%

$

68,260

Print circulation

Revenue decreased in 2020 primarily driven by volume declines, partially offset by rate increases. Home delivery revenue decreased $3,043 or 5.5 percent, and single copy revenue decreased $1,863 or 24.7 percent primarily due to the significant reduction in the number of locations selling newspapers as a result of the pandemic. Circulation revenue from home delivery and single copy revenue is expected to continue to decline as audiences are shifting to subscribing for news from digital platforms.

Revenue decreased in 2019 primarily due to a decline in home delivery revenue, driven by a volume decline of 28.2 percent. The volume declines were partially offset by rate increases. Single copy revenue also decreased compared to prior year, due to single copy paid print circulation volume declines of 22.1 percent.


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Digital circulation

Revenue increased in 2020 and 2019, due to an increase in digital-only subscriptions. In 2020, digital-only subscriptions increased 36.8 percent when compared to December 31, 2019, primarily resulting from a broad interest in news topics including the presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Printing, distribution and other revenue

Printing, distribution and other revenue was 11.1 percent and 10.6 percent of total revenue for 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Years Ended December 31,

2020

Percentage
Change

2019

Printing, Distribution and Other

$

17,150

(11.8)

%

$

19,447

Revenue decreased 2020, primarily due to a decline in brokered and commercial printing revenue partially offset by an increase in shared mail packaging revenue.

Revenue decreased in 2019 primarily due to the Company eliminating its brokered printing business, in the first quarter of 2019, in which it provided services direct to small business clients. Additionally, the Company reduced the number of local and national commercial print customers it serves from more than 30 to 5. This strategic decision to streamline operations was implemented to improve operating income.


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Operating Costs and Expense

The table below sets forth the components of the Company’s operating costs and expense.

Years Ended December 31,

2020

Percentage
Change

2019

Employee compensation and benefits

$

71,772

(10.4)

%

$

80,134

Other production, distribution and operating costs

80,008

(11.8)

%

90,673

Newsprint, ink and other supplies

10,168

(38.6)

%

16,570

Depreciation

7,016

(21.9)

%

8,983

Amortization

255

(48.5)

%

495

(Gain) loss on sale/disposal of assets, net

90

100.4

%

(24,540)

Asset impairments

563

(67.1)

%

1,709

Total Operating Costs and Expense

$

169,872

(2.4)

%

$

174,024

Employee compensation and benefits The Company continues to implement measures to optimize its workforce and evaluate strategies to reduce risk associated with future obligations for employee benefit plans. Employee compensation and benefits decreased $8,362 and $9,170 in 2020 and 2019, respectively, primarily due to headcount reductions within the Company. Additionally in 2020, employees’ base compensation was reduced Company-wide starting in the second quarter in order to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In August 2020, the Company began to restore base salaries and by October, the Company restored base salaries prospectively for all employees, with the exception of the executive officers that report to the Chief Executive Officer. The executive officers’ base salaries will be restored effective January 1, 2021. In 2019, headcount decreased primarily due to the Company’s strategic decision, in the first quarter of 2019, to eliminate its brokered printing business and reduce the number of local and national commercial print customers it serves.

Other production, distribution and operating costs – Expense decreased $10,665 in 2020, reflecting savings as the Company continued to manage discretionary spending and implemented measures to reduce costs in response to the unfavorable financial impact of the pandemic, including expense reductions in outside services, advertising and promotion, and travel and entertainment. Additionally, distribution expense decreased related to delivery of the Company’s various publications and products. Expense remained flat in 2019 due to the management of discretionary spending, offset by $1,920 of expense related to a strategy review with an outside consulting firm in the second quarter of 2019.

Newsprint, ink and other supplies Expense decreased $6,402 in 2020, due to competitive pricing available under its paper supply agreement, reduced newsprint costs associated with lower circulation volumes and a decline in commercial printing. Expense decreased in 2019 due to lower circulation volumes and the elimination of brokered printing for small business clients. Newsprint consumption approximated 9,781 and 11,619 metric tons in 2020 and 2019, respectively, at an average cost per metric ton of $549 and $751, respectively.

Depreciation – Expense decreased in 2020 and 2019 due to a lower depreciable asset base as a higher level of in-service assets are now fully depreciated. The Company has reduced capital spending, but it is committed to investing the appropriate levels of capital to sustain existing operations.

Amortization Expense decreased in 2020 due to an intangible asset being fully amortized in 2019, and the only remaining intangible asset to be amortized is comprised of customer relationships. Expense decreased in 2019 due to the impairment of intangible assets in the fourth quarter of 2018.

(Gain) loss on sale/disposal of assets, net – In 2020, the Company disposed of assets and sold production-related assets that were no longer in use. Additionally, in the fourth quarter the Company sold assets related to the production of promotional materials that will be outsourced beginning in 2021. In 2019, the Company completed the sale of real estate previously used as the Company’s headquarters for $28,000, resulting in a pretax gain of $25,908. In addition, the Company recorded a loss of $1,362 on the disposal of newspaper production assets, as a result of reduced brokered and commercial printing, and publishing software that was replaced by a new digital content platform.

Asset impairments – In 2020, the Company subleased office space in Dallas, Texas at a lower rate than the head lease, and accordingly an asset impairment of $461 was recorded in the fourth quarter. In the third quarter of 2019, in conjunction with the Company’s organizational changes, the Company conducted an impairment review of goodwill and long-lived assets. As a result, the Company recorded a noncash goodwill impairment charge of $1,593 in the third quarter of 2019, fully impairing goodwill.


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Other

The table below sets forth the other components of the Company’s results of operations.

Years Ended December 31,

2020

Percentage
Change

2019

Other income, net

$

7,014

68.2

%

$

4,169

Income tax provision (benefit)

$

(1,687)

(138.2)

%

$

4,416

Other income, netOther income, net includes net periodic pension and other post-employment benefit of $4,627 and $3,259 for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, resulting from a favorable return on pension assets, partially offset by a decrease in the discount rate. Interest income (expense), primarily interest received of $897 and $395 in the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, on the promissory note from the sale of the Company’s former headquarters, and gain (loss) from investments are also included in other income, net. On September 24, 2020, the Company’s shares of eSite Analytics, Inc. (“eSite”) were repurchased by eSite for $750, recognized in other income, net.

Income tax provision (benefit) – A tax benefit of $(1,687) was recorded in 2020. The benefit was primarily due to the recognition of the 2018 net operating loss carryback permitted by the CARES Act, partially offset by the effect of the Texas margin tax.

A tax provision of $4,416 was recorded in 2019. The provision was primarily due to annual income before income taxes, primarily a result of income generated from the sale of the Company’s former headquarters (see Note 14 – Disposal of Assets), the Texas margin tax and an increase in the valuation allowance due to a change in judgement as to the realization of the Company’s deferred tax assets.

Legal proceedings – From time to time, the Company is involved in a variety of claims, lawsuits and other disputes arising in the ordinary course of business. Management routinely assesses the likelihood of adverse judgments or outcomes in these matters, as well as the ranges of probable losses to the extent losses are reasonably estimable. Accruals for contingencies are recorded when, in the judgment of management, adverse judgments or outcomes are probable and the financial impact, should an adverse outcome occur, is reasonably estimable. The determination of likely outcomes of litigation matters relates to factors that include, but are not limited to, past experience and other evidence, interpretation of relevant laws or regulations and the specifics and status of each matter. Predicting the outcome of claims and litigation and estimating related costs and financial exposure involves substantial uncertainties that could cause actual results to vary materially from estimates and accruals. In the opinion of management, liabilities, if any, arising from other currently existing claims against the Company would not have a material adverse effect on A. H. Belo’s results of operations, liquidity or financial condition.

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

A. H. Belo’s consolidated financial statements reflect the application of accounting policies that require management to make significant estimates and assumptions. The Company believes that the following are the critical accounting policies, estimates and assumptions currently affecting A. H. Belo’s financial position and results of operations. See the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements, Note 1 – Significant Accounting Policies and Recently Issued Accounting Standards, for additional information concerning significant accounting policies.

Revenue Recognition.   The Company’s principal sources of revenue are sales of advertising within its newspaper and digital platforms, subscription and retail sales of its newspapers, commercial printing and distribution services, primarily related to national newspapers, and preprint advertising. In addition, revenue includes strategic marketing management, consulting, creative services, targeted and multi-channel (programmatic) advertising placed on third-party websites, social media management, search optimization, direct mail and the sale of promotional materials.

Advertising and marketing services revenue is primarily recognized at a point in time when the ad or service is complete and delivered, based on the customers’ contract price. Barter advertising transactions are recognized at estimated fair value based on the negotiated contract price and the range of prices for similar advertising from customers unrelated to the barter transaction. The Company expenses barter costs as incurred, which is independent from the timing of revenue recognition. In addition, certain digital advertising revenue related to website access is recognized over time, based on the customers’ monthly rate.

For ads placed on certain third-party websites, the Company must evaluate whether it is acting as the principal, where revenue is reported on a gross basis, or acting as the agent, where revenue is reported on a net basis. Generally, the Company reports advertising revenue for ads placed on third-party websites on a net basis, meaning the amount recorded to revenue is the amount billed to the customer net of amounts paid to the publisher of the third-party website. The Company is acting as the agent because the publisher controls the advertising inventory.

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Circulation revenue is generated primarily by selling home delivery, including premium publications, and digital subscriptions, as well as single copy sales to non-subscribers for which revenue is recognized at a point in time when the paper is purchased. Home delivery revenue is recognized over the subscription period based on the days of actual delivery over the total subscription days. Revenue is directly reduced for any non-payment for the grace period of home delivery subscriptions where the Company recorded revenue for newspapers delivered after a subscription expired. Digital-only subscription revenue is recognized over the subscription period based on daily or monthly access to the content in the subscription period.

Printing, distribution and other revenue is primarily generated from printing and distribution of other newspapers, as well as production of preprinted advertisements for other newspapers. Printing, distribution and other revenue is recognized at a point in time when the product or service is delivered.

Long-Lived Assets.   The Company evaluates its ability to recover the carrying value of property, plant and equipment and finite-lived intangible assets, using the lowest level of cash flows associated with the assets, which are grouped based on the Company’s intended use of these assets. This evaluation is performed whenever a change in circumstances indicates that the carrying value of an asset group may not be recoverable. If the analysis of undiscounted future cash flows indicates the carrying value of the long-lived assets cannot be recovered, the assets are adjusted to the lower of its carrying value or fair value.

During the year ended December 31, 2020, the Company performed a review of potential impairment indicators for its long-lived assets, including property, plant and equipment, and right-of-use assets. The Company determined there were indicators of possible impairment and conducted a long-lived assets impairment review. Upon completion, it was determined the undiscounted cash flows including from ultimate disposition of the assets exceeded the carrying value of the asset group, thus no impairment was indicated. See Note 5 – Leases for additional information on right-of-use asset impairment.

Pension. The Company follows accounting guidance for single-employer defined benefit plans. Plan assets and the projected benefits obligation are measured each December 31, and the Company records as an asset or liability for the net funded position of the plans. Certain changes in actuarial valuations related to returns on plan assets and projected benefit obligations are recorded to accumulated other comprehensive income (loss) and are amortized to net periodic pension expense (benefit) over the weighted average remaining life of plan participants, to the extent the cumulative balance in accumulated other comprehensive income (loss) exceeds 10 percent of the greater of the respective plan’s (a) projected benefit obligation or (b) the market-related value of the plan’s assets. Net periodic pension expense (benefit) is recognized each period by accruing interest expense on the projected benefit obligation and accruing a return on assets associated with the plan assets. Participation in and accrual of new benefits to participants has been frozen since 2007 and, accordingly, on-going service costs are not a component of net periodic pension expense (benefit). From time to time, the Company-sponsored plans may settle pension obligations with certain plan participants through the plans’ master trust as part of its de-risking strategies. The gains or losses associated with settlements of plan obligations to participants are recognized to earnings if such settlements exceed the interest component of net periodic pension cost for the year. Otherwise, such amounts are included in actuarial gains (losses) in accumulated other comprehensive income (loss). Re-measurement of plan assets and liabilities upon a significant settlement or curtailment event is performed based on the values of the month-end closest to the event.

The projected benefit obligations of the A. H. Belo Pension Plans are estimated using the FTSE Pension Discount Curve, which is based upon a portfolio of high-quality corporate debt securities with maturities that correlate to the expected timing of estimated benefit payments to the Pension Plans’ participants. Future estimated benefit payments are discounted to their present value at the appropriate yield curve spot rate to determine the projected benefit obligation outstanding at each year end. The single equivalent discount rate as of December 31, 2020 was 2.1 percent and 2.9 percent for December 31, 2019.

Interest expense included in net periodic pension benefit is based on the FTSE Pension Discount Curve established at the beginning of the fiscal year. The discount rate for fiscal year 2020 and 2019 interest cost was 2.9 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively.

The Company assumed a 6.5 percent long-term return on the Pension Plans’ assets in 2020 and 2019. This return is based upon historical returns of similar investment pools having asset allocations consistent with the expected allocations of the A. H. Belo Pension Plans. Investment strategies for the Pension Plans’ assets are based upon factors such as the effective duration of the actuarial liabilities and market risks.


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Income Taxes.   The Company uses the asset and liability method of accounting for income taxes and recognizes deferred tax assets and liabilities based on the difference between the financial statement and tax basis of assets and liabilities using enacted tax rates. The Company establishes a valuation allowance if it is more-likely-than-not that the deferred tax assets will not be realized. The factors used to assess the likelihood of realization of the deferred tax assets include future reversal of deferred tax liabilities, available tax planning strategies, future taxable income and taxable income in prior carryback years.

The Company evaluates any uncertain tax positions each reporting period by tax jurisdiction to determine if it is more-likely-than-not that the tax position will not be sustained on examination by the taxing authorities based on the technical merits of the position. The tax benefits recognized in the financial statements for such positions are measured based on the largest benefit that has a greater than 50 percent likelihood of being realized upon ultimate settlement. If a net operating loss or other tax credit carry forward exists, the Company records the unrecognized tax benefits for such tax positions as a reduction to a deferred tax asset. Otherwise, the unrecognized tax benefits are recorded as a liability. The Company records a liability for uncertain tax positions taken or expected to be taken in a tax return. Any change in judgment related to the expected ultimate resolution of uncertain tax positions is recognized in earnings in the period in which such change occurs. Interest and penalties, if any, related to unrecognized tax benefits are recorded in other income, net.

Recent Accounting Standards

See the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements, Note 1 - Significant Accounting Policies and Recently Issued Accounting Standards, regarding the impact of certain recent accounting pronouncements.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

The Company’s cash balances as of December 31, 2020 and 2019, were $42,015 and $48,626, respectively. The decrease in the cash balance during 2020 was primarily due to the return of capital to shareholders through dividends and the net loss from operations.

The Company intends to hold existing cash for purposes of future investment opportunities, potential return of capital to shareholders and for contingency purposes. Although revenue is expected to continue to decline in future periods, cash flows and other cost cutting measures are expected to be sufficient to fund operating activities and capital spending of approximately $1,000 in 2021.

The future approval of dividends is dependent upon available cash after considering future operating and investing requirements and cannot be guaranteed. The Company continues to have a board-authorized repurchase authority. However, the agreement to repurchase the Company’s stock expired in the fourth quarter of 2019 and was not renewed.

As a result of the recent COVID-19 outbreak that began in January 2020, the Company is experiencing an increase in digital subscriptions, which currently does not offset the loss of advertising revenue. On April 6, 2020, the Company announced that it was taking several actions to reduce cash outflow in response to the financial impact of COVID-19. The Company reduced operating expenses, reduced capital expenditures to less than $1,000 in 2020, and lowered the quarterly dividend rate to $0.04 per share for dividends declared. Beginning with the 2020 annual meeting of shareholders, the board of directors’ compensation was reduced and the board was reduced in size by two. In addition, employees’ base compensation was reduced Company-wide, and the annual bonus tied to financial metrics for eligible employees was not achieved. In August 2020, the Company began to restore base salaries and by October, the Company restored base salaries prospectively for all employees, with the exception of the executive officers that report to the Chief Executive Officer. The executive officers’ base salaries will be restored effective January 1, 2021.

In response to COVID-19, the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act provides numerous tax provisions and other stimulus measures. The Company has benefited from the temporary five-year net operating loss carryback provision and the technical correction for qualified leasehold improvements, which changes 39-year property to 15-year property, eligible for 100 percent tax bonus depreciation. Applying the technical correction to 2018 has resulted in reporting additional tax depreciation of $1,017 and increased the 2018 net operating loss to approximately $6,829. The loss was carried back against 2014 taxes paid at the federal statutory rate of 35 percent that was previously in effect, resulting in a cash refund of $2,425, including interest, received on October 2, 2020. Additionally, the Act, which includes The COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, was passed and signed into law the last week of 2020. The Company did not avail itself of any of the items contained in the new Act.


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As a direct result of COVID-19 uncertainties, on April 3, 2020, the Company and the Purchaser entered into an amendment to the two-year seller-financed promissory note of $22,400, for the sale of the real estate assets previously used as the Company’s headquarters. The second promissory note, in the principal amount of $375, includes a deferred interest payment of $195 that was due April 1, 2020, and a 2019 real property tax reconciliation payment due from the Purchaser. The Company evaluated the collectability of the notes as a result of the purchaser’s request to defer the first quarter 2020 interest payment and the continuation of the pandemic. Management believes as of December 31, 2020, the promissory notes are recoverable since the purchaser is in compliance with the terms, is publicly indicating its intent to develop the property, and management believes that the value of the collateral has not materially changed from the sale date. In addition, on January 4, 2021, the Purchaser paid the fourth quarter 2020 interest payment of $253.

The Company continues to evaluate the future material impacts on its consolidated financial statements that may result from the actions taken by the Company and its customers in respect of the pandemic.

The following discusses the changes in cash flows by operating, investing and financing activities in 2020 and 2019.

Operating Cash Flows

Net cash provided by (used for) operating activities was $(1,490) and $1,205 in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Cash flows from operating activities decreased by $2,695 in 2020, when compared to the prior year period. The decrease was driven primarily by the net loss of $6,872 in 2020, and changes in working capital and other operating assets and liabilities, partially offset by the CARES Act refund of $2,425 and the sale of IP addresses for $744.

Cash flows from operating activities decreased in 2019 compared to 2018, primarily due to federal income tax refunds of $7,305 received in 2018 and changes in working capital and other operating assets and liabilities.

Investing Cash Flows

Net cash provided by (used for) investing activities was $18 and $(174) in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Cash flows from investing activities increased in 2020 due to a reduction in capital spending of $1,528 and cash proceeds of $750 from the sale of the Company’s eSite shares that were repurchased by eSite in the third quarter of 2020. The Company reduced its capital spending plan for 2020 in response to the financial impact of COVID-19 as discussed above.

Cash flows used for investing activities decreased in 2019 compared to 2018, due to a reduction in capital spending of $3,241 and cash proceeds of $4,597 from the sale of real estate previously used as the Company’s headquarters, partially offset by the acquisition of Cubic Creative for $2,356.

Financing Cash Flows

Net cash used for financing activities was $5,139 and $7,718 in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Cash used for financing activities included total dividends paid of $5,139 and $6,876 in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

In 2019, the Company purchased 216,490 shares of its Series A common stock at a total cost of $842 under its board-authorized repurchase authority. However, the agreement to repurchase the Company’s stock expired in the fourth quarter of 2019 and was not renewed.

Financing Arrangements

None.


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Contractual Obligations

As of December 31, 2020, the Company had contractual obligations, in aggregate, of $16,436 for the next five years and $19,691 thereafter, for operating leases, primarily for office space and other distribution centers, some of which include escalating lease payments. See Note 5 – Leases for future lease payments by year. In addition, the Company had expected purchase obligations of $117 related to capital expenditures.

In December 2017, AHC Dallas Properties, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, assumed a 12-year lease agreement for office space that serves as the headquarters of the Denton Record-Chronicle. In connection with the sale of Denton Publishing Company, owner of the Denton Record-Chronicle, to Denton Media Company, Inc., the Company entered into a sublease with Denton Publishing Company for a term ending on July 30, 2023. While it is anticipated that lease payments will be made on a timely basis there is not a guarantee. If Denton Publishing Company is not able to meet the obligation, the Company may look to alternative sublease arrangements.

In December 2016, the Dallas Morning News, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, entered into a 16-year lease agreement for office space for the Company’s new corporate headquarters. The Company recognizes rent expense on a straight-line basis. Per the amended lease agreement, rent payments began in November 2018.

The Company currently does not expect to make contributions to the A. H. Belo Pension Plans in 2021 and no contributions are required to these plans in 2021 under the applicable tax and labor laws governing pension plan funding.

On December 3, 2020, the Company’s board of directors declared a $0.04 per share dividend to shareholders of record as of the close of business on February 12, 2021, paid on March 5, 2021. On March 4, 2021, the Company’s board of directors declared a $0.04 per share dividend to shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 14, 2021, which is payable on June 4, 2021.

Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

The consolidated financial statements, together with the Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firms, are included herein starting on page 28 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

None.

Item 9A. Controls and Procedures

Evaluation of Disclosure Controls and Procedures

Disclosure controls and procedures, as defined in Rules 13a-15(e) and 15d-15(e) under the Exchange Act, are controls that are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by the Company in reports filed or submitted under the Exchange Act is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the SEC’s rules and forms, and that such information is accumulated and communicated to management, including the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and Principal Financial Officer, as appropriate, to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure. In designing disclosure controls and procedures, management is required to apply its judgment in evaluating the cost-benefit relationship of possible disclosure controls and procedures. The design of any disclosure controls and procedures is also based, in part, upon certain assumptions about the likelihood of future events and there can be no assurance that any design will succeed in achieving its stated goals under all potential future conditions.

The Company’s management, with the participation of its Chief Executive Officer and Principal Financial Officer, evaluated the effectiveness of the design and operation of its disclosure controls and procedures as of December 31, 2020. Based on that evaluation, management concluded that, as of such date, the Company’s disclosure controls and procedures were effective.

Management’s Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting

The management of A. H. Belo is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting as defined in Rule 13a-15(f) under the Exchange Act. The Company’s internal control over financial reporting is designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of consolidated financial statements for external purposes in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Under the supervision and with the participation of management, including the Chief Executive Officer and Principal Financial Officer, an assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting was conducted as of December 31, 2020. In making this assessment, management used the criteria set forth by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (“COSO”) in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013). Based on this assessment using the criteria set forth by COSO in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013), management concluded that the Company’s internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2020.

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Table of Contents

Changes in Internal Control Over Financial Reporting

Except as related to the material weaknesses and mitigation activities described below, there have been no changes in the Company’s internal control over financial reporting that occurred during the fourth fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2020, that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, the Company’s internal control over financial reporting.

Remediation of Prior Year Material Weaknesses

As disclosed in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, the Company identified material weaknesses in its internal control over financial reporting, which resulted from control deficiencies related to certain process-level controls over the accuracy and occurrence of revenue. In addition, certain process-level controls that were implemented during 2019 to remediate the previously reported material weaknesses related to occurrence of revenue were not operating for a sufficient period of time as of December 31, 2019. The Company’s management, with oversight from the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of the Company, actively engaged in remediation efforts to address these material weaknesses. Management has taken a number of actions to remediate the 2019 material weaknesses including the following:

Enhanced certain process-level controls over the accuracy and occurrence of revenue.

Reviewed the design of all process-level revenue controls and added controls or enhanced controls, as needed.

Completed enhanced training of personnel who have financial reporting or internal control responsibilities in conjunction with the review of the design and operating effectiveness of all revenue controls.

During the fourth quarter of 2020, the Company completed its testing of the new or enhanced controls. Based on the foregoing remediation activities and testing of controls, management determined that the material weaknesses were remediated and the Company’s internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2020.


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PART III

Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

The information set forth under the headings “A. H. Belo Corporation Stock Ownership,” “Proposal One: Election of Directors,” “Corporate Governance – Committees of the Board – Audit Committee,” “Corporate Governance – Committees of the Board – Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee,” and “Information About Our Executive Officers” contained in the definitive Proxy Statement for the Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 13, 2021, is incorporated herein by reference.

A. H. Belo has adopted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics that applies to all directors, officers and employees, which can be found at the Company’s website, www.ahbelo.com. The Company will post any amendments to the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, as well as any waivers that are required to be disclosed by the rules of either the SEC or the New York Stock Exchange, on the Company’s website. Information on A. H. Belo’s website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

The Company’s board of directors adopted Corporate Governance Guidelines and charters for the Audit, Compensation and Management Development, and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committees of the Board of Directors. These documents can be found at the Company’s website, www.ahbelo.com.

Shareholders can also obtain, without charge, printed copies of any of the materials referred to above by contacting the Company at the following address:

A. H. Belo Corporation

P. O. Box 224866

Dallas, Texas 75222-4866

Attn: Investor Relations

Telephone: (214) 977-7342

Item 11. Executive Compensation

The information set forth under the headings “Corporate Governance – Committees of the Board – Compensation and Management Development Committee,” “Executive Compensation – Summary Compensation Table, – Change in Control Arrangements and Other Agreements Upon Termination of Employment, – Potential Payments on Change in Control or Upon Termination of Employment at December 31, 2020,” “Corporate Governance – “Director Compensation” contained in the definitive Proxy Statement for the Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 13, 2021, is incorporated herein by reference.

Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

The information set forth under the headings “A. H. Belo Corporation Stock Ownership of Directors and Executive Officers” and “Equity Compensation Plan Information” contained in the definitive Proxy Statement for the Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 13, 2021, is incorporated herein by reference.

Information regarding the number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance under the Company’s equity compensation plans is included in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements, Note 1 – Significant Accounting Policies and Recently Issued Accounting Standards.

Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

The information set forth under the heading “Certain Relationships and Related Party Transactions” and “Corporate Governance – Director Independence” contained in the definitive Proxy Statement for the Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 13, 2021, is incorporated herein by reference.

Item 14. Principal Accountant Fees and Services

The information set forth under the heading “Proposal Two: Ratification of the Appointment of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm” contained in the definitive Proxy Statement for the Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 13, 2021, is incorporated herein by reference.

 

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PART IV

Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

(1)    The consolidated financial statements listed in the Index to Consolidated Financial Statements included in the table of contents are filed as part of this report.

(2)    All financial statement schedules were omitted because they are not applicable, are not required, or the required information is shown in the consolidated financial statements or notes thereto.

(3)    Exhibits:

Exhibits marked with an asterisk (*) are incorporated by reference to documents previously filed by the Company with the SEC, as indicated. In accordance with Regulation S-T, the XBRL-related information marked with a double asterisk (**) in Exhibit No. 101 to this Annual Report on Form 10-K is deemed filed. All other documents are filed with this report. Exhibits marked with a tilde (~) are management contracts, compensatory plan contracts or arrangements filed pursuant to Item 601(b)(10)(iii)(A) of Regulation S-K.

Exhibit Number

Description

2.1

*

Agreement and Plan of Merger dated April 23, 2018 by and between A. H. Belo Corporation and A. H. Belo Texas, Inc. (Exhibit 2.1 to the Company’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 23, 2018 (Securities and Exchange Commission File No. 001-33741) (the “April 23, 2018 Form 8-K”))

3.1

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Certificate of Formation of A. H. Belo Corporation (successor to A. H. Belo Texas, Inc.) (Exhibit 3.1 to the April 23, 2018 Form 8-K)

3.2

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Certificate of Merger (Delaware) of A. H. Belo Corporation with and into A. H. Belo Texas, Inc. (Exhibit 3.3 to the Company’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 2, 2018 (Securities and Exchange Commission File No. 001-33741) (the “July 2, 2018 Form 8-K”))

3.3

*

Certificate of Merger (Texas) of A. H. Belo Corporation with and into A. H. Belo Texas, Inc. (Exhibit 3.4 to the July 2, 2018 Form 8-K)

3.4

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Bylaws of A. H. Belo Corporation (successor to A. H. Belo Texas, Inc.) (Exhibit 3.2 to the April 23, 2018 Form 8-K)

(1)

*

Amendment No. 1 to the Amended and Restated Bylaws of A. H. Belo Corporation (Exhibit 3.1 to the Company’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 6, 2020 (Securities and Exchange Commission File No. 001-33741) (the “April 6, 2020 Form 8-K”))

(2)

*

Amendment No. 2 to the Amended and Restated Bylaws of A. H. Belo Corporation (Exhibit 3.1 to the Company’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 4, 2020 (Securities and Exchange Commission File No. 001-33741))

4.1(a)

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Certain rights of the holders of the Company’s Common Stock set forth in Exhibits 3.1-3.4 above

4.1(b)

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Description of Capital Stock (Exhibit 4.1 to the July 2, 2018 Form 8-K)

4.2

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Specimen Form of Certificate representing shares of the Company’s Series A Common Stock (Exhibit 4.2 to the July 2, 2018 Form 8-K)

4.3

*

Specimen Form of Certificate representing shares of the Company’s Series B Common Stock (Exhibit 4.3 to the July 2, 2018 Form 8-K)

10.1

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Material Contracts

(1)

*

Sublease Agreement for Old Dallas Library Building dated December 30, 2016 (Exhibit 10.1 to A. H. Belo Corporation’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on January 3, 2017 (Securities and Exchange Commission File No. 001-33741) (the “January 3, 2017 Form 8-K”))

(2)

*

Guaranty of Lease dated December 30, 2016 (Exhibit 10.2 to the January 3, 2017 Form 8-K)