Times Mirror reports $298.9 million loss


Times Mirror Co. -- moving through a costly restructuring program -- reported a $298.9 million third-quarter loss yesterday.

The Los Angeles-based company, which owns The Baltimore Sun Co., cited the after-tax impact of special third-quarter charges totaling $360.1 million, for the loss.

Analysts were not surprised by the charges and said the company's restructuring should allow it to perform well next year.

"The write-offs are in the ballpark of what we expected," said John Reidy, who tracks media companies for Smith Barney in New York. "Long-term, I think the company will be a moderately steady cash-flow grower," he said.

Mary Ann Winter, a media analyst for Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in New York, said: "Next year, it should be relatively easy to grow earnings 50 percent because of all these expense cuts."

The charges include costs of closing New York Newsday and The Evening Sun, eliminating jobs and other steps to curb long-term expenses.

"The restructuring program will help to substantially improve Times Mirror's profitability even after we absorb next year's expected $80 to $100 million increase in newsprint expense," said Mark H. Willes, chief executive officer.

Mr. Reidy predicted that Times Mirror can expect newsprint cost increases to hit their peak in the first half of 1996, at the latest.

For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Times Mirror reported a net loss of $2.48 per share, compared with a profit of $52.3 million, or 41 cents a share, for the same period a year ago.

Revenue increased to $864.8 million from $858.5 million last year.

Excluding the impact of the one-time charges, as well as other special items, income from continuing operations was $37.1 million, or 21 cents per share. That compares with $36.1 million, or 28 cents per share, for the same period last year.

The cost-cutting steps will continue, and the company said it anticipates an after-tax charge of up to $180 million in the fourth ,, quarter.

Even so, Times Mirror does not anticipate a loss for the year.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Times Mirror earned $1.38 billion, or $11.44 per share, on revenues of $2.48 billion, reflecting a gain of $1.63 billion on the sale of its cable operations to Cox Communications.

In the first three quarters last year, Times Mirror earned $120 million, or 93 cents per share, on revenue of $2.4 billion.

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