Tribune revenue drops in April

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CHICAGO -- Media conglomerate Tribune Co. said Monday its revenue slipped in April due to softness in its publishing segment.

The company, whose publishing properties include the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and 23 television stations, said consolidated revenue for the period ended April 29 dropped 3.6% to $399 million from $414 million in the prior year.

Publishing revenue fell 8.6% to $279 million as publishing advertising revenue sagged 10.3% to $217 million.

Circulation revenue declined 7.2% on selective discounting in home delivery and lower single-copy sales.

Retail ad revenue slid 6.8% due to weakness in specialty merchandise, home furnishings and department store categories partially, but the company reported strength in hardware/home improvement. A shift in the timing of Easter had a negative impact, the company said.

National advertising revenue slumped 8.2% with weakness in the financial and auto categories partially offset by strength in movies.

Classified ad revenue tumbled 14.9%, with real estate dropping 20% on significant declines in the Florida markets due to difficult year-over-year comparisons.

The company's broadcasting and entertainment group saw its revenue climb 10.2% to $121 million.

Real estate tycoon Sam Zell is buying Tribune, the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher, in an $8.2 billion deal.

Bear Stearns analyst Alexia Quadrani lowered her forecast for Tribune earnings and said she doesn't foresee much of a bounceback in the coming months.

"Tribune's results, which are overshadowed by the buyout, are in line with our expectation for a very weak April consistent with the rest of our publishing universe," she wrote in a report for investors. "We believe the stocks ... will remain under pressure as the market digests these poor results and earnings are once again revised downward."

Tribune shares fell a penny to $32.93 on Monday.
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