is preparing to show investors a midyear progress report Thursday at a tough time for the big media company.
Analysts covering the Chicago-based company, which owns newspapers, television assets, some new media vehicles and baseball's Chicago Cubs, are looking for earnings of 58 cents a share on revenue of $1.47 billion.
The company has been cowed by last year's circulation scandals at
, its Spanish language paper. CEO Dennis FitzSimons said in June that solid progress is being made to resolve legal issues surrounding the
affair. He said Tribune has settled with 80% of its largest advertisers. Still, a big concern leading up to tomorrow will be whether the circulation fiasco has hurt ad growth.
Also factoring in could be the higher cost of newsprint, which weighed on
quarter when it reported Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 2005 has not been a standout year for TV stations. Tribune owns 26 WB, ABC and Fox-affiliated stations. Little relief is expected on that horizon until 2006, when political advertising should tick up and tighten inventory. The TV station business, with flagging contributions from the automotive industry this year, seems hopelessly cyclical. Expect year-to-year declines in TV revenue again this quarter.
The company is also disenchanted by Nielsen's rollout of local people meters in major TV markets, which it says undercounts minority and younger viewers.
The WB network, of which Tribune owns a 22% equity stake, had a decent showing during the May upfront advertising season, booking close to $700 million in business.
In online media, Tribune has taken up several key ventures, most notably a joint venture with Gannett and
in CareerBuilder, a jobs site. It also has interests in Topix.net, an online news aggregator, Cars.com and Apartments.com.
Tribune has repurchased 5 million of its shares so far this year.
In Wednesday trading, Tribune rose 4 cents to $35.37.