Tribune First-Quarter Earnings Up
CHICAGO (AP) _ Tribune Co. earnings rose 9 percent in the first quarter, driven mostly by strong gains in its broadcasting division, the company said today.
The owner of the Chicago Tribune, superstation WGN and the Chicago Cubs earned $70.1 million, or 49 cents per share on a diluted basis, up from $64.5 million, or 45 cents per share, for the same quarter of 1997.
Revenue rose 13 percent $672.7 million from $593.9 million.
The recent quarter’s profits were boosted by a pre-tax gain of $7.3 million, or 3 cents per share, from the sale of 700,000 shares on the open market.
Operating profit from broadcasting and entertainment shot up 38 percent to $54 million from $39 million, mostly due to the acquisition of six television stations from Renaissance Communications Corp. in March 1997. Stations that Tribune already owned in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and New York showed gains as well.
In the publishing division, operating profit increased 2 percent to $99 million from $97 million last year as continued strength in classified advertising revenue offset higher newsprint expenses.
Tribune’s education division posted an operating loss of $696,000, compared to a loss of $160,000 last year. Gains at most businesses were offset by a decline at Creative Publications, which publishes supplemental classroom materials.
Besides the Chicago Tribune, Tribune Co. publishes the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, The Orlando Sentinel and the Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Va.. It also owns and operates 17 television stations and four radio stations, and publishes educational materials.
Tribune stock was downl 87 1/2 cents a share at $67.87 1/2 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange today.