Tribune profits slumps due to real estate

November 28, 2007

Tribune Co. (NYSE:TRB) , the nation’s second-largest newspaper publisher, said Tuesday its October revenue fell 9.3 percent as classified ad sales continued to suffer from real estate declines.

The company, whose properties include the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and nine other dailies along with 23 TV stations, said consolidated revenue for the period ended Oct. 28 slipped to $383 million from $422 million a year ago.

The monthly results confirm a continuation of the industry tailspin that sent Tribune’s third-quarter revenue down 4 percent and earnings down 7 percent from the same period in 2006 as the housing slump and lower consumer spending hammer advertising revenue.

Circulation revenue fell more than 6 percent because of declines in single-copy sales and discounts for home delivery, the Tribune said.

Shares in the company fell $1.23, or 4.3 percent, to $27.37 Tuesday.

Publishing revenue in October dropped 7.9 percent to $287 million, with ad revenue sliding 10.6 percent to $222 million.

National ad sales dipped 2.3 percent with softness in auto, transportation and technology categories partially offset by an increase in the movie category.

Classified ad sales slumped 19.2 percent, as real estate tumbled 26.9 percent on significant dropoffs in Los Angeles, Chicago and Florida. Help wanted ad revenue declined 21.7 percent and automotive fell 4.9 percent. Interactive sales were a bright spot, rising 11.4 percent to $22 million.

Retail advertising sales slid 7.8 percent as declines in department stores, amusements and electronic categories were partially offset by a rise in the health care category.

Broadcasting and entertainment revenue slipped 13.3 percent to $96 million on declines in television group revenue and Chicago Cubs revenue. Television revenue fell 7.1 percent on dropoffs in political, movies and retail, partially offset by strength in food/packaged goods, telecom and restaurant/fast food categories.

Tribune is in the process of going private under the leadership of real estate magnate Sam Zell.

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