UPDATED: Tribune Co. Reports $3 Billion Loss to Date, But Also Sees ‘Solid Financial Progress’

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Tribune so far this year has lost a little more than $3 billion, including expenses relating to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization that total nearly $1 billion. But the Chicago Tribune parent was profitable in July and CEO Randy Michaels (left), proclaiming the company’s “solid financial progress,” noted operating cash flow jumped 44% in the first seven months of 2010.

According to results filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, Tribune had loss of $3.05 billion for the first seven months of the year, and a profit of $6.4 million in July.

Tribune recorded an operating profit before reorganization costs of $23 million in July, and an operating loss before those costs of $2.1 billion for the year through Aug. 1.

Revenue so far this year is $5.12 billion.

Consolidated operating cash flow jumped $100 million by August 1, compared to the year-ago period, Tribune said. In June alone, it added, cash flow was up $18 million year-over-year.

Tribune’s operating cash flow margin for its combined publishing and broadcasting business increased to 18% from 12% for the first seven months of 2009, it said.

“We are making solid financial progress,” Tribune CEO Randy Michaels said  in a statement. “Despite the noise surrounding our Chapter 11 process and a tough economic  environment, we have not only stabilized our business, but in 2010 we have grown cash  operating flow-and we’re really just getting started.”
In a separate memo to employees, Michaels and COO Gerry Spector also referred to “outside noise,” in an apparent reference to Tribune’s failure to get creditor approval for its proposed post-bankruptcy reorganization plan — and reports Thursday that its biggest creditors are wooing former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner to run the company.

“There’s been a lot of media speculation lately regarding our Chapter 11 process—and the temptation is to let it distract us from the things that matter most: focusing on our business and serving our customers and communities,” they wrote. “Try not to pay attention to the outside noise.”

Michaels said Tribune is working to transform itself “from a collection of media businesses to a single media  company,”

When Tribune newspapers, including the flagship Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, report their circulation results to the Audit Bureau of Circulations in September, the company said, it  “expects to have slowed the trend of circulation declines.”

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