Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB) today reported second quarter 2004 diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $.29 compared with $.67 in the second quarter of 2003.
Publishing operating profit in the 2004 second quarter included two pretax charges: $17 million, or $.03 per diluted share, for the elimination of 375 positions and $35 million, or $.06 per diluted share, related to the anticipated settlement with advertisers regarding misstated circulation at Newsday and Hoy, New York. On June 17th, the Company announced that both newspapers would be reducing their reported daily and Sunday circulation for both the twelve months ended September 2003 and the six months ended March 2004. Since that time, the ongoing internal investigation has identified additional misstatements for these periods, as well as misstatements that impact 2001 and 2002.
The 2004 second quarter results also included a net non-operating loss of $.24 per diluted share, which primarily relates to the early retirement of debt completed on March 29. The 2003 second quarter results included a net non-operating gain of $.10 per diluted share.
Tribune presents earnings per share amounts on a generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) basis only. This differs from the pro forma earnings per share amounts supplied by broker analysts to databases such as First Call.
“In the second quarter, we moved aggressively to address circulation misstatements at Newsday and Hoy in New York, where ethical lapses occurred that are unacceptable and wholly out of character with Tribune’s history of business integrity,” said Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We also initiated expense reductions in the publishing group in the face of softening revenues at the Los Angeles Times. Results for the majority of our newspapers and our broadcasting group were good, and we have demonstrated our confidence in the future with accelerated stock repurchases,” he added.
SECOND QUARTER 2004 RESULTS1
Tribune’s 2004 second quarter operating revenues increased 3 percent to $1.50 billion from $1.45 billion in the 2003 second quarter. Consolidated cash operating expenses increased $95 million, or 9 percent, in the second quarter of 2004. Operating cash flow was down 11 percent to $379 million compared with the second quarter of 2003. Tribune’s operating profit decreased 14 percent to $319 million, compared with $370 million in 2003.
Publishing’s second quarter operating revenues were $1.0 billion, up 3 percent from last year’s second quarter. Publishing cash operating expenses rose by 13 percent; 7 percentage points, or $52 million, of the increase is attributable to the two charges discussed below. Publishing operating cash flow was $217 million, a 22 percent decrease from $279 million in the second quarter of 2003. Publishing operating profit decreased 27 percent to $171 million, down from $235 million in 2003.
Second quarter 2004 publishing operating profit included a pretax charge of $17 million, or $.03 per share, related to the elimination of 375 positions. These position eliminations will result in compensation expense savings of approximately $12 million in the second half of 2004 and $25 million for full year 2005. The publishing business units expect to save an additional $24 million in the second half of 2004 through other expense reduction actions.
During the second quarter of 2004, the Company recorded a pretax charge of $35 million, or $.06 per share, as its estimate of the cost to settle with advertisers related to the reduced reported circulation at Newsday and Hoy, New York, based upon facts available at this time. These newspapers have been cooperating with the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), and a Tribune Company internal audit of their reported circulation is ongoing. The Company will continue to evaluate the adequacy of this $35 million reserve on an ongoing basis, as the audits are completed and negotiations with advertisers proceed.
- Retail advertising revenues rose 5 percent for the quarter. Increases in food, health care, furniture/home furnishing and electronics were partially offset by a decline in department stores. Preprint revenues increased 9 percent, led by an 18 percent increase in Los Angeles, a 10 percent increase in Chicago and an 18 percent increase in Hartford.
- National advertising was up 2 percent for the quarter with increases in the financial and movies/entertainment categories, partially offset by decreases in hi-tech, travel/resorts and auto manufacturers.
- Classified advertising was up 6 percent for the quarter. Help wanted revenues for the group were up 16 percent: Los Angeles was up 15 percent, New York rose
8 percent and Chicago rose 8 percent. Real estate revenues increased
5 percent for the quarter and auto revenues were flat.
- Interactive revenues, which are included in the above categories, were $31 million, up 38 percent, due to strength in classified and banner/sponsorship advertising.
- CareerBuilder network revenues increased 82 percent from last year’s second quarter.
- In addition to the impact of the two previously discussed charges, higher newsprint prices, increased retirement and other benefit expenses and new publications also contributed to the increase in cash operating expenses. Newsprint and ink expense was 11 percent higher than 2003 as newsprint cost per ton was up 12 percent while consumption decreased slightly.
BROADCASTING AND ENTERTAINMENT
Broadcasting and Entertainment’s second quarter operating revenues increased 3 percent to $450 million, up from $436 million in 2003. Cash operating expenses were up almost
1 percent in the second quarter of 2004. Operating cash flow was $174 million, up 7 percent from $162 million in 2003. Operating profit rose 8 percent to $160 million from $149 million last year.
Television’s second quarter revenues increased 4 percent to $368 million, up from
$354 million in 2003. Television cash operating expenses rose 1 percent from last year. Television operating cash flow was $167 million, a 7 percent increase from $156 million in the second quarter of 2003. Television operating profit rose 8 percent to $155 million, up from $144 million in 2003.
- Television revenues increased 4 percent compared to the second quarter of 2003, when they were up 12 percent over 2002.
- Television cash operating expenses were up 1 percent compared with last year primarily due to higher benefits expense, partially offset by lower broadcast rights amortization.
- Television advertising growth was driven by gains in the fast food and telecom categories, offset by softness in movies and packaged goods.
- Television’s operating cash flow margin was 45.4 percent, up from 44.0 percent in 2003.
Net equity income was $4.4 million in the second quarter of 2004, compared with $1.5 million in the second quarter of 2003. The improvement was primarily due to increased equity income from TV Food Network.
In the 2004 second quarter, Tribune recorded a net after-tax non-operating loss of
$80 million, or $.24 per diluted share, while in the 2003 second quarter the Company recorded a net after-tax non-operating gain of $32 million, or $.10 per diluted share. Non-operating items in the second quarter of 2004 included an after-tax loss of $88 million, or $.26 per diluted share, from the early retirement of $620 million of debt at a pretax cash premium of $137 million and an after-tax gain of $12 million, or $.04 per diluted share, from marking-to-market the Company’s PHONES derivatives and related Time Warner investment. Non-operating items in the second quarter of 2003 included an after-tax gain of $33 million, or $.10 per diluted share, from marking-to-market the Company’s PHONES derivatives and related Time Warner investment.
ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL DETAILS
Corporate expenses for the 2004 second quarter decreased to $13 million from $14 million in the second quarter of 2003.
Net interest expense for the 2004 second quarter decreased to $35 million, down 28 percent from $49 million in the second quarter of 2003, as higher interest rate debt was retired and replaced with commercial paper. Debt, excluding the PHONES, increased to approximately $2.2 billion at the end of the 2004 second quarter from a balance of $2.0 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2004, primarily related to the buy back of stock. The Company repurchased 11.0 million shares of its stock in the 2004 second quarter.
The effective tax rate in the 2004 second quarter was 40.0 percent, compared with 38.7 percent in the 2003 second quarter.
Capital expenditures were about $47 million in the second quarter of 2004.
2004 SECOND HALF OUTLOOK
Consolidated revenues for the second half of 2004 are expected to grow in the 4 percent range and will continue to be affected by many factors, including changes in national and local economic conditions, consumer confidence, job creation and unemployment rates. Consolidated operating expenses for the second half of 2004 are expected to increase 2.5 to 3 percent due to higher expenses for retirement and medical plans, newsprint and the impact of new publications; it also assumes that no additional charges will be required related to the settlement with advertisers at Newsday and Hoy, New York. Second half 2004 interest expense is expected to decrease from 2003 due to a lower average debt level and the impact of the debt refinancing in the second quarter of 2004. The effective income tax rate for 2004 is expected to be approximately 39 percent.
WEBCAST OF CONFERENCE CALL
Today at 8 a.m. (CDT), a live Webcast of the 2004 second quarter conference call will be accessible through www.tribune.com and www.ccbn.com. An archive of the Webcast will be available on these sites from July 15 through July 22. More information about Tribune is available at www.tribune.com or by calling 800/757-1694.
:: :: ::
1 “Operating profit” for each segment excludes interest income and expense, equity earnings and losses, non-operating items and income taxes. “Operating cash flow” is defined as operating profit before depreciation and amortization. “Cash operating expenses” are defined as operating expenses before depreciation and amortization. Tables accompanying this release include a reconciliation of operating profit to operating cash flow and operating expenses to cash operating expenses.
:: :: ::
This press release contains certain comments or forward-looking statements that are based largely on the Company’s current expectations and are subject to certain risks, trends and uncertainties. Such comments and statements should be understood in the context of Tribune’s publicly available reports filed with the SEC, including the most current annual 10-K report and quarterly 10-Q report, which contain a discussion of various factors that may affect the company’s business. Information relating to the estimated cost of settlement with Newsday and Hoy, New York, advertisers is based on facts currently available. Any of these factors could cause actual future performance to differ materially from current expectations. Tribune Company is not responsible for updating the information contained in this press release beyond the published date, or for changes made to this document by wire services or Internet service providers. This press release is being furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission through a Form 8-K.