Ad recovery boosts Tribune results

Chicago Cubs and a payout bring in the money

NEW YORK — Cheered by what it sees as signs of an advertising recovery, publisher-broadcaster Tribune Co. on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter 2003 profits up a hefty 75%. Increase was due in large part to a $100 million gain on the sale of its stake in the Golf Channel to Comcast and better-than-expected gains at its broadcasting and publishing divisions.

Chicago-based company, which owns 13 daily newspapers and 26 TV stations, also benefited from a $22 million insurance payout for service interruptions at its WPIX TV in Gotham after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Fourth-quarter operating revenues rose a mere 2.8% to $1.47 billion, though lower expenses at Tribune’s broadcast and entertainment groups helped boost operating cash flow by 10% to $458 million. Operating profits were up 11% vs. the year-ago period to $400 million.

At the company’s broadcasting and entertainment division, which includes its minority stake in the WB, revenues rose 4.1% for the quarter to $353 million. Full-year numbers were up 8.3% to $1.32 billion. Division was helped by the baseball playoff success of the wholly owned Chicago Cubs. Company said it will receive “significant” rights-fee increases for Cubs games that air on the new regional sports network owned by Comcast.

The newspaper group, which includes the Chicago Tribune and L.A. Times, had a tougher run, with revenues up just 2% to $1.08 billion, though profits jumped a healthy 8% compared to last year’s $2.6 million.

Tribune recorded a full-year net profit of $891.4 million for 2003, more than double last year’s $443 million bottom line. Sales were up a more modest 4% to $5.6 billion.

Company predicts sales for 2004 will grow about 6%, though operating expenses are growing nearly as quickly at 5.5% this year due to personnel and newsprint costs as well as launch costs for new publications.

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Biz News from Variety

Loading