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Times Mirror Operating Profit Up 20% in Quarter

October 23, 1987|THOMAS B. ROSENSTIEL | Times Staff Writer

Times Mirror Co. on Thursday reported sharply higher operating profit for the third quarter this year, largely because of the strength of its newspaper, book and magazine operations.

Overall, Times Mirror reported net income of of $70.6 million for the quarter ended Sept. 27, which is below the $74 million in the third quarter a year ago. But the 1986 figure included gains from the sale of the Dallas Times Herald.

When those one-time gains are subtracted and income only from operations is counted, Times Mirror's third-quarter earnings per share this year rose by 11%, to $1.09 a share, compared to 98 cents a share last year.

Based in Los Angeles, Times Mirror owns the Los Angeles Times and eight other newspapers, as well as book publishers, magazines, and broadcast and cable television enterprises.

Revenue in the quarter rose 12% to $782.3 million, an increase from $697.7 million the year before.

Operating profit before taxes and interest expense was $146.3 million, an increase of 20% from a year ago.

Most Divisions Gain

"As anticipated, earnings growth has slowed in the second half of this year" because of more modest growth in the economy, said Chairman Robert F. Erburu, "but we continue to expect 1987 to be another record year in operating earnings."

All of the company's operating groups earned more than the year before except for broadcast television operations, Erburu said. The company's broadcast television stations suffered a 19.7% drop in operating profit, down to $11.6 million.

The stations in Dallas and Austin, Tex., suffered because of problems in the oil economy, and the station in St. Louis has ratings problems. Only the station in Birmingham, Ala., is enjoying improved profits.

Newspapers Pace Increase

But Times Mirror's nine newspapers, by far it largest division, enjoyed an 18% gain in profit to $85.2 million. One reason, Times Mirror said, was the absence of losses from Dallas and the gain in profits from the recently acquired Baltimore Sun papers.

Newspaper revenue rose even more in the quarter, up 21.3%, but the company's profitability in newspapers was inhibited by an increase in the price of newsprint.

The company's book, magazine and technical publishing group enjoyed a 29% jump in operating profit to $37.1 million, led by its legal publisher, Matthew Bender & Co., and its medical publisher, C. V. Mosby Co.

Profits from the company's recently reorganized and skimmed-back cable television operations also rose, by 59.6% to $8.4 million. Early in the fourth quarter, the company announced that it planned to swap cable systems with United Artists Communications and Tele-Communications to further concentrate on a few regions.

The company also reported that interest expense declined in the quarter from the year before by 15.8% to $12.6 million.

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