Troubled Tribune Announces 4Q Profits Surge

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Newspaper publisher Tribune Co., which has been entertaining various takeover offers including a rumored bid from billionaire Sam Zell, said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit surged 81 percent, benefiting from multiple gains and higher revenue.

Net income after paying preferred dividends jumped to $239.1 million, or 99 cents per share, from $132.3 million, or 43 cents per share, during the same period a year ago. Income from continuing operations totaled 96 cents per share in the latest period.

The 2006 quarter includes charges of 3 cents for job cuts and to shut down its LA Times San Fernando Valley printing facility, as well as gains totaling 31 cents on the sale of Tribune’s corporate airplane, its phones segment and related Time Warner investment, as well as on the sale of the company’s investment in BrassRing.

Tribune also saw a $33 million favorable income tax expense adjustment, mainly due to reaching an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service’s appeals office on the deduction of interest expense on its phones segment.

Excluding items, the company earned 68 cents per share in the latest period. Analysts were seeking profit of 61 cents per share, according to Thomson Financial.

Quarterly revenue grew 5.4 percent to $1.47 billion from $1.39 billion in the previous year, beating Wall Street’s estimate of $1.43 billion.

Broadcasting and entertainment’s operating revenue gained 11 percent to $356 million.

“Key factors were improved results in broadcasting, strong interactive revenue growth, and excellent expense control throughout the company,” Chairman, President and Chief Executive Dennis FitzSimons in a statement.

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