Tribune Profits Down But Ahead of Estimates

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A slowdown in the advertising market knocked down earnings at newspaper publisher

Tribune Co.

(TRB)

, which saw fourth-quarter profits sink from last year's levels though they still beat expectations.

The publisher of the

Chicago Tribune

and the

Los Angeles Times

newspapers Friday reported earnings of 36 cents a share, excluding one-time items, compared with 44 cents a share for the same period a year earlier. The Wall Street consensus estimate from 15 analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

was for 34 cents a share.

Estimates for the company were lowered in December from a consensus of 37 cents after the company issued a profit warning due to the softening advertising market. In general, most publishers have been hurt by the recent slowdown in advertising spending, and by the demise of dot-coms, which has done away with many big-spending advertisers.

Tribune said operating revenues rose to $1.5 billion from $766 million a year earlier. The company also restated its earnings guidance of $1.55 earnings per share for 2001, up from $1.30 in 2000, and said it expects consolidated revenues to grow by 6% to 8% in 2001.

The company's stock lately fell 88 cents, or 2.2%, to $38.25 on the

New York Stock Exchange

.