Tribune Company reports improvement in 2010


Tribune Company continues its long stint in Chapter 11 reorganization, but it has provided some limited insight into how it performed financially in 2010. In short, broadcasting got better and publishing got worse.

“The past year showed substantial improvement over 2009,” said the announcement from CFO Chandler Bigelow. “Consolidated operating cash flow in 2010 was approximately $635 million, an increase of more than $140 million compared to full-year 2009.”

“Thanks to strong performance across its local television station group, the expansion of local programming and robust political advertising in the fourth quarter, the company’s broadcasting division had an exceptional year in 2010,” the company said.  

“On the publishing side, despite a difficult environment for print advertising, the rate of decline in both revenue and operating cash flow slowed significantly compared to 2009.  At Tribune Publishing’s two largest business units, the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, 2010 full-year operating cash flow was essentially unchanged compared to the previous year,” said the statement.

Other full-year financial highlights for 2010 include:

Consolidated revenue increased one percent compared to 2009.

Consolidated operating cash flow margin increased more than four percentage points, to almost 20%, compared to the previous year.

Consolidated cash operating expenses decreased four percent compared to 2009.

“Tribune’s financial results for 2010 are due, in large part, to the great work of thousands of employees, who continue transforming the company from a collection of newspapers and broadcast stations to a media company with innovative products providing news, information and entertainment across multiple platform,” said the company announcement.

Tribune Company said that 2011 will remain challenging due to reduced political advertising in broadcasting and continued pressure on print advertising, particularly in the national advertising category.

RBR-TVBR observation: What Tribune Company needs most is to get out of its current state of limbo. The conflicting Chapter 11 reorganization plans need to be resolved so the company can emerge from Bankruptcy Court oversight and hire a new CEO to replace the committee currently trying to keep the train on track.

Given the continued weakness of the newspaper business, the new board of directors and CEO would do well to work on selling off the fish-wrappers to those billionaires with more money than good sense who have indicated their interest. That would leave the creditors with a pretty healthy TV group (and one healthy radio station).