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Publisher Posts 4.4% Rise Amid Restructuring

October 21, 1998|From a Times Staff Writer

Times Mirror Co. said Tuesday that third-quarter income from continuing operations rose 4.4%, as good performance from its Eastern newspapers was more than offset by higher costs and weak advertising revenue growth at its flagship Los Angeles Times. An ongoing restructuring is expected to include job reductions in the fourth quarter, the company said.

Income from continuing operations, excluding pretax charges, rose to $56.5 million, or 61 cents per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from $54.1 million, or 49 cents per share, in the same period of 1997.

Including the restructuring and other one-time charges, Times Mirror posted a loss from continuing operations of $19.6 million, or 30 cents per share, during the quarter. Revenue from continuing operations was $729.4 million, up 4.3%.

"For the third quarter, good operating performance at our Eastern newspapers was more than offset by a substantial year-to-year operating profit decline at the Los Angeles Times, where costs have grown in anticipation of advertising revenue growth that has not, as yet, materialized," said Mark H. Willes, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Times Mirror and publisher of The Times.

"In the fourth quarter, our restructuring review will continue throughout the company, with the largest steps likely to be taken at The Times," Willes said. He said the company expects to meet its financial objectives for the year.

The restructuring, which will be announced by mid-November, will include an undisclosed number of "job reductions," a company spokeswoman said. Times Mirror expects the restructuring program to produce pretax charges of between $200 million and $225 million--more than half of which have been taken in the first nine months of the year--and annual savings of about $25 million beginning in 1999.

The third-quarter pretax charges included $80 million for the ongoing restructuring review program and an additional $14 million in costs at the company's StayWell and AchieveGlobal businesses that did not qualify as restructuring charges.

Third-quarter net income, which includes a $1.11-billion gain from the divestiture of the Matthew Bender/Shepard's legal publishing businesses, jumped to $1.08 billion, or $12.71 per share, compared with $66.9 million, or 62 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

The newspaper group posted third-quarter operating profit before restructuring charges of $85.2 million, down 5.7%. Revenue was $556.6 million, up 6%. Excluding recent acquisitions, it was up 1.8%.

The magazine group reported third-quarter operating profit before restructuring charges of $7.8 million, up 42.8%. The professional information publishing group posted operating profit before restructuring charges of $20.2 million, up 5.8%.

Times Mirror shares fell $1.25 to close at $54 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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