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Time Mirror earnings exceed expectations Before charges for cost-cutting


LOS ANGELES -- Times Mirror Co. said its fourth-quarter earnings rose a better-than-expected 10 percent before charges for its dramatic cost-cutting effort.

The media company, which publishes the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The Sun and other newspapers, said its profit from continuing operations rose to $57.1 million, or 42 cents a share, from $51.7 million, or 40 cents, the year before.

Charges for the recent quarter of $198 million, or $1.84 a share, associated with its restructuring and $700,000 for disposition of other unspecified assets, resulted in a loss of $141.6 million, or $1.62. Results for the most-recent quarter reflect payment of dividends on preferred stock.

A year ago, a gain of $13.3 million from discontinued operations and a loss of $12.2 million for early retirement of debt resulted in net income of $52.7 million, or 41 cents a share.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 1.1 percent, to $966.7 million from $956.4 million a year ago.

Per-share results exceeded the average estimate of 38 cents a share of 11 analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research. The company's shares rose $1.50 to $32.50 yesterday.

"They continue to under-promise and over-deliver," said analyst Lanny Baker of Salomon Bros. "Publishing was stronger in the tail end than had been expected, and that puts more money in the bottom line."

Mark H. Willes, Times Mirror's chairman, president and chief executive, said the cost cuts improved results.

The company also said advertising revenue for its newspaper publishing group increased 2.8 percent to $147.5 million during the five weeks that ended Dec. 31.

During the year, Times Mirror divested its cable television operations and discontinued its cable programming and consumer multimedia businesses. At the same time, it pared its core news and information businesses, shutting down New York Newsday, and eliminating jobs and unprofitable operations in its other businesses.

For the year, Times Mirror reported net income of $1.23 billion, or $10.02 a share, compared with $173.1 million, or $1.35, a year earlier. The 1995 results included a gain of $1.63 billion, or $14.36 a share, related to the sale of its cable television business.

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