Tribune Co. revenue climbs 1%

By Tribune staff report
Posted Jan. 26 at 12:44 p.m.

Chicago-based Tribune Co. said Wednesday that operating cash flow at its two largest publishing units — the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune — was essentially flat in 2010 compared to 2009, while overall operating cash flow increased $140 million to $635 million.

“The past year showed substantial improvement over 2009,” Chandler Bigelow, Tribune Co.’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.

The increase was attributed largely to the performance of its local television stations across the country, which benefited from expansion of local programming and a surge in fourth-quarter political advertising.
Tribune Co.’s publishing division, which continued to face what the company described as “a difficult environment for print advertising,” said it “significantly” slowed the rates of decline in both revenue and operating cash compared to 2009.

The media company has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since December 2008 and, on Tuesday, filed last month’s operating report with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Because it operates privately, Tribune Co. is not required to disclose all of the financial details required of a publicly traded concern.

The 2010 operating cash flow exceeded the company’s projection of $617 million that was included in its reorganization plan filed in late October. Tribune Co. also receives cash from several investments, including the Food Network, Classified Ventures and CareerBuilder, that are not included in operating cash flow.

Tribune Co. said its consolidated revenue increased 1 percent compared to 2009 but it did not provide numbers. In October, the company projected in court documents that it would finish 2010 with $3.18 billion in revenues.

The company also said its consolidated cash operating expenses decreased 4 percent.

“Now it is time to move forward into 2011,” the four-man executive council leading Tribune Co. said in a note to employees.”This will be a challenging year due to a number of factors, including a reduction in political advertising in broadcasting and continued pressure on print advertising, particularly in the national advertising category. But, there is also a lot of opportunity ahead.”

Because there will not be mid-term elections in 2011 and because there continues to be pressure on print advertising, especially in the national category, Tribune Co. said the new year “will remain challenging.”

The company noted that although it uses cash operating expenses and operating cash flow to track performance internally, they are not official measures of financial performance under generally accepted accounting principles.

– By Ameet Sachdev and Phil Rosenthal


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