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Tribune Co. earnings, revenue fall

Net income plunges 61.2% and revenue slides 10.5% at Tribune Co.

August 29, 2013|By Walter Hamilton
  • Tribune Co. owns the Chicago Tribune, the L.A. Times and numerous other media outlets.
Tribune Co. owns the Chicago Tribune, the L.A. Times and numerous other… (Scott Olson, Getty Images )

Tribune Co., the parent of the Los Angeles Times, reported that earnings tumbled in the second quarter as revenue dropped sharply in its broadcast division and advertising continued to decline at its newspapers.

The media giant reported net income of $66.3 million in the three months that ended June 30, a 61.2% plunge from $170.8 million in the year-earlier period. Revenue slid 10.5% to $730.2 million, while pretax income skidded 39.7% to $110.4 million.

Tribune continued to reduce costs, with operating expenses dropping $50 million to $640.6 million. The newspaper division chopped $64 million, while costs rose in other parts of the company.

"While our second quarter financial results reflect many of the same challenges faced by the other companies in our sector, we have made substantial progress strategically repositioning Tribune for long-term growth," said Peter Liguori, Tribune chief executive.

The ongoing decline of newspaper ad revenue has cast a shadow over the entire company. Tribune has announced plans to spin off its eight daily newspapers into a separate company. Doing so would likely raise the value of the company's television, radio and Internet properties.

The company emerged from bankruptcy at the end of last year, and it has been widely reported that its board is interested in selling the publishing unit, which includes the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun. Several potential suitors have expressed interest in The Times, including Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Dodgers controlling owner Mark Walter, Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner and local philanthropist and businessman Eli Broad.

Revenue in Tribune's broadcast division dropped 20% to $260 million, while operating profit dropped 59% to $51 million.

That was due to several factors, including one-time royalty payments that boosted revenue in 2012, and lower ad revenue at WPIX in New York and WGN in Chicago.

Revenue in the publishing unit declined to $470 million, a 4% drop from $489 million last year. But expense cuts helped fuel a fourfold rise in operating profit to near $60 million.

Ad revenue at the newspaper unit continued to decline, dropping 7% to $262 million.

Retail advertising, which includes department stores and home-improvement stores, was off 8%. National ads, including those from cellular carriers, movie companies and financial services providers, also declined 8%. Classified ads sagged 5%.

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