Earnings: Tribune Loses $124 Million In Q3; Severance, Writedowns Take Heavy Toll

This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
Tribune CEO Sam Zell's entry in the understatement of the week contest: "We are operating in an exceptionally difficult financial and economic environment." True, but Tribune's problems stretch back further and go deeper than backlash from the current economy. The company reported a Q3 loss of $124 million Monday, compared with earnings of $84 million for the same period last year. Compared with Q307, revenues declined 10 percent, to $1 billion, while operating cash flow dropped 67 percent year over year.  But Zell isn't understating anything when he talks of how aggressively Tribune is moving, as evidenced by the $45 million charge for severance and termination benefits. Nearly all of that went to reducing publishing headcount; overall, the company cut the equivalent of 1,300 full-time positions. 

-- Advertising:  Publishing advertising revenues slid 19 percent ($111 million). As part of that, interactive revenues dropped 7 percent ($4 million) "due to a decline in classified advertising, partially offset by increases in retail and national advertising."

-- CareerBuilder: Tribune reported a $79 million gain on the Q3 sale of its 10 percent interest in CareerBuilder to Gannett (NYSE: GCI) for $135 million.

More details in the earnings release. The privately held company promises a conference call before the end of the year. 

By Staci D. Kramer