- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Newspaper publishers delivered more discouraging news yesterday as Tribune Co. and the New York Times Co. both reported sluggish advertising revenue in the third quarter.

Tribune said it was still on track to decide on a restructuring strategy by the end of the year. The Times, meanwhile, downplayed speculation that it was considering a leveraged buyout.

The Times, which also owns the Boston Globe and other newspapers, reported a 4.2 percent slump in advertising, while Tribune’s newspaper advertising fell 2 percent. The Times was especially hard-hit by continued weakness in its New England properties, anchored by the Globe, where advertising slumped 10 percent.

Tribune, which owns the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and the Chicago Tribune, among others, reported a big jump in net earnings as the result of one-time gains as it unwound two complex partnerships.

Excluding the gain, Tribune earned 43 cents per share. Sales fell 3 percent to $1.35 billion.

The Times’ results beat recently lowered expectations, but still reflected considerable weakness in print advertising. The company reported earnings of $14 million (10 cents), down 39 percent from $23.1 million (16 cents). Revenue fell 2.4 percent to $739.6 million.

Speaking on a conference call with analysts, Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson downplayed speculation of a potential leveraged buyout of the company. Only the Times’ controlling shareholders, the Ochs-Sulzberger family, are able to change the structure of the company, and “they have given no indication that they plan to do so,” she said.

Another publisher, Belo Corp., reported a 13 percent decline in profits on one-time charges, including 3 cents per share in severance costs at the Dallas Morning News.

Belo posted net earnings of $19.2 million (19 cents), down from $22.1 million, or 20 cents per share, during the same period last year. Belo’s television revenue rose 6.9 percent, but newspaper revenue fell 4.2 percent.


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