Playboy Hopes Mag Will Break Even By 2011

Playboy (NYSE: PLA) President Alex Vaickus opened up the company’s Q4 earnings call with a big “thank you” to pop singer John Mayer, whose controversial interview in the March 2010 issue has been covered by 1,500 media outlets. But as he and CEO Scott Flanders made clear, executives don’t expect that buzz to reverse the string of losses the magazine has been hit with the past few years. For the most part, the Flanders said his objective not to generate profits from the mag; the title just needs to stop losing money. “Playboy is the core strategic asset,” Flanders said. “We expect it to break even by 2011.” But until that time, this year, Playboy could see a $5 million loss on the magazine expected.

Things at Playboy magazine are expected to take a while to turnaround as the cost-savings resulting from the deal with American Media, which is handing newsstand sales and representation for the mag title, takes effect.

During the Q&A parts of the call, Flanders indicated that the Playboy would like for more partners like American Media and IMG, which has just been tapped to manage the brand’s licensing in Asia. But don’t expect a sale anytime soon. Despite early progress in Flanders’ tenure as CEO in striking a sale, talks with Iconix fell apart in December. And there doesn’t seem to be anything new on the horizon. For Flanders’ part, that’s okay. “I wasn’t brought in for the specific purpose of making a sale,” he said. “I was brought in to increase shareholder value.”