Tribune (TRB) posted a mixed first quarter Friday, as television advertising was soft and newspaper circulation slipped.
The Chicago-based media company, owner of the
Los Angeles Times
along with a host of large market TV stations, reported that first-quarter net profit rose to $142.8 million, or 44 cents a share, from $120.7 million, or 35 cents a share, in the same period a year before. Latest-quarter results included a 3-cent-a-share nonoperating gain; backing that out, they were in line with analysts' expectations.
Revenue fell 1% from a year ago to $1.32 billion, leaving it a shade below the $1.34 billion Thomson First Call analyst consensus.
"Our results in the first quarter were in line with our expectations," said CEO Dennis FitzSimons. "Newspaper advertising revenue growth was solid in January and February, although March was negatively impacted by the timing of the Easter holiday. In television, our results reflected overall industry softness and the impact of Local People Meters in our major markets."
Television revenue dropped 5% from a year ago, led by weakness in the automotive, movie and telecom categories. The latest quarter was also hurt by the introduction of Local People Meters, Nielsen Media Research's newly installed system for counting local TV viewers.
"Nielsen continues to have probelms measuring younger people in homes with more than five people," said Pat Mullen, president of Tribune Broadcasting Group, noting Tribune's younger-skewing audiences on its WB stations.
Early Friday, Tribune dropped 8 cents to $38.92.