Tribune Earnings Up — and Down

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Newspaper and TV station owner Tribune Co. reported sharply higher third-quarter earnings on Thursday due to a one-time gain from the restructuring of two partnerships it inherited when it bought Times Mirror, an acquisition which resulted in significant charges in last year’s third quarter. Excluding the gain, earnings were below Wall Street’s expectations.

Tribune, which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other papers as well as the Chicago Cubs baseball team, reported income available to common shareholders of $162.2 million, or 65 cents per share, compared with $21.9 million, or 7 cents per share, in last year’s third quarter.

Excluding the one-time gain, Tribune earned 43 cents per share in the latest quarter. Analysts had expected earnings of 45 cents per share, according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

Revenue fell almost 3 percent to $1.35 billion from $1.38 billion as revenue from publishing advertising decreased 2 percent. Analysts had expected revenue of $1.37 billion.

“Our third quarter financial results reflect the continued soft advertising environment,” Dennis FitzSimons, Chicago-based Tribune’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The latest quarter’s results included a gain of 22 cents per share, mostly from the September restructuring of TMCT LLC and TMCT II LLC, two partnerships the company inherited when it bought Times Mirror Co. in 2000 for about $8 billion. Last year’s third quarter included a loss of 43 cents per share from a tax ruling stemming from the Times Mirror purchase.

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