Tribune CEO Sam Zell’s entry in the understatement of the week contest: “We are operating in an exceptionally difficult financial and economic environment.” True, but Tribune’s problems stretch back further and go deeper than backlash from the current economy. The company reported a Q3 loss of $124 million Monday, compared with earnings of $84 million for the same period last year. Compared with Q307, revenues declined 10 percent, to $1 billion, while operating cash flow dropped 67 percent year over year. But Zell isn’t understating anything when he talks of how aggressively Tribune is moving, as evidenced by the $45 million charge for severance and termination benefits. Nearly all of that went to reducing publishing headcount; overall, the company cut the equivalent of 1,300 full-time positions.
— Advertising: Publishing advertising revenues slid 19 percent ($111 million). As part of that, interactive revenues dropped 7 percent ($4 million) “due to a decline in classified advertising, partially offset by increases in retail and national advertising.”
— CareerBuilder: Tribune reported a non-operating pre-tax $79 million gain on the Q3 sale of its 10 percent interest in CareerBuilder to Gannett (NYSE: GCI) for $135 million.
More details in the earnings release. The privately held company promises a conference call before the end of the year. The company also filed its 10-Q Monday and if I ever pay someone to read SEC filings for me, I’d start with this one.
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