Tribune's Feb. revenues decline 3.4%

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CHICAGO -- Tribune Co. revenues fell 3.4% in February as its publishing division continued to struggle, the media conglomerate reported Wednesday.

Tribune, based in Chicago, said its revenue for the period ending March 4 was $385 million, down from $398 million during the period last year.

Publishing revenue dipped 5.1% to $294 million, hurt by a 5.1% drop in advertising revenue to $233 million. Circulation revenue slid 7% on single-copy declines and discounts for some home delivery.

The company's broadcasting and entertainment group saw its revenue climb 2.4% to $90 million.

The media company, which owns Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun, as well as several TV stations and the Chicago Cubs baseball team, has been soliciting a buyer for some or all of its assets since last year.

Under pressure because of its long-sagging stock price, Tribune appointed a special board committee in September to review options for its business -- including a possible sale, breakup, or offers to be taken private. Its self-imposed deadline for making a decision is March 31.

Tribune earlier this year was reviewing possibilities that included a recapitalization with a broadcast unit spinoff, led by the Chandler family shareholders whose pressure prompted the review, and a public leveraged buyout by Los Angeles billionaires Ron Burkle and Eli Broad. But both offers, made in January, have failed to produce a deal.

Besides a bid by Chicago billionaire Sam Zell, the company has been said to be considering a "self-help" plan that would involve spinning off the company's broadcast division and borrowing money to pay a one-time cash dividend to shareholders.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Zell said that talks with Tribune Co. continue and his proposal to acquire the media conglomerate still is on the table.

Tribune shares rose 29 cents, or 1%, to close at $29.10 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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