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Big Miss at Tribune

It sees earnings drop 80%.
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posted an 81% drop in first-quarter earnings from continuing operations, missing Wall Street's estimates by a wide margin.

The Chicago-based newspaper publisher, which agreed recently to a buyout led by real estate magnate Sam Zell, made $19 million, or 8 cents a share, from continuing operations, down from the year-ago $99 million, or 32 cents a share. Revenue dropped 4% from a year ago to $1.21 billion.

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Tribune said without explanation that the first quarter was hit by 20 cents a share in what it called a net non-operating loss.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a 31-cent profit on sales of $1.23 billion.

"The print advertising environment was challenging in the first quarter due to softness in classified categories," said CEO Dennis FitzSimons. "Our interactive division continues to generate significant growth and our newspapers continue to innovate -- the Los Angeles Times launched new travel and fashion sections and RedEye will add a weekend edition in May. In broadcasting, revenue improvements in prime time helped offset weaker market conditions due in part to the absence of political spending vs. last year."

Ad revenue dropped 6% from a year ago, led by a 14% decline in classified advertising. Circulation revenue dropped 7%. Broadcast revenue was flat.