Tribune Co. reports earnings rose 18% in 1Q to $142.8 million


Tribune Co. reported a profit upturn in the first quarter, as an income-tax benefit helped offset the financial drag of declining circulation and continued weakness in the company's broadcast segment.

Net income at the Chicago media holding company was $142.8 million, or 44 cents a diluted share, up 18 percent from $120.7 million, or 35 cents a share, in the first quarter last year.

The results got a big boost from one-time factors unrelated to the company's actual operations, however. Tribune's overall operating profit, which excludes such factors, declined 7.8 percent.

Revenue fell 1.2 percent to $1.32 billion, from $1.33 billion in the first quarter of 2004.

In the company's publishing group, which includes the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday and The Sun, revenue of $1.01 billion was essentially unchanged, but operating profit rose 4.6 percent to $198.5 million.

Revenue from circulation declined 8.6 percent at the publishing group, to $151.7 million. But the more significant stream of revenue generated by advertising rose 1.7 percent, to $798 million.

In Tribune's broadcast and entertainment segment, revenue dropped 5.6 percent to $310.2 million, and operating profit tumbled 31 percent to $67 million.

As company officials had previously warned, Tribune's entertainment group was hurt by a $13.3 million pretax charge related to a decision by the company's Chicago Cubs baseball subsidiary to trade former slugger Sammy Sosa to the Baltimore Orioles.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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