Despite a difficult year for newspaper and broadcast companies in general, the bankrupt Tribune Company says it still managed to finish ’09 with close to $500 million in operating cash flow. About a month ago, the company said it expected to complete ’09 with roughly $400 million cash flow. In a memo obtained by Romenesko, Tribune CEO Randy Michaels and COO Gerry Spector attributed boosted revenues to stronger than expected Q4.
The memo tried to strike a balance between optimism and continued concerns about the company’s financial state. Obviously, the Tribune, which recently won a court challenge brought by lenders for control of the company over its reorg plan, can’t celebrate yet. Given the uncertainty of the economy and the media business in particular, Michaels and Spector make a point of saying that expenses need to be kept in check, suggesting that more cost-cutting is likely on tap for 2010.
The company has been looking at a number of ways to keep down expenses; in August it sold selling 95 percent of the Chicago Cubs and the iconic Wrigley Field for about $845 million to the Ricketts family.
Earlier this month, the Tribune’s LA Times cut 80 jobs as it closed an Orange County printing plant. In addition, the paper said it would shrink the width of the newspaper to 44 inches from 48 inches. In November, the Tribune suspended its Associated Press news feed across its dailies to see if it could do without the wire service.