Times Mirror reports decline of 40% in 3rd-quarter earnings

October 25, 1990|By Graeme Browning

Times Mirror Co., the Los Angeles-based media and information company that owns The Baltimore Sun, reported yesterday that net income for the third quarter fell 40.3 percent, to $41.9 million from $70.1 million in the third quarter of 1989.

Revenue for the third quarter rose 2.4 percent, to $895 million from $873.9 million in the comparable period of 1989.

The company attributed the drop in earnings to declining advertising among the seven newspapers it owns, especially the Los Angeles Times, the flagship newspaper.

"In addition, the Newspaper Publishing Group incurred higher newsprint costs, while operating costs at the Times also were boosted by expenses associated with circulation growth," said Robert F. Erburu, chairman and chief executive officer.

In the last four weeks, advertising lineage at the Los Angeles Times has dropped 21.5 percent, said Suzanne S. Hovdey, director of corporate communications.

Ad lineage at Newsday, also owned by Times Mirror, has dropped 40 percent since the beginning of the year, Ms. Hovdey said. Ad lineage at The Baltimore Sun has dropped only 15.8 percent during the past four weeks and 12.9 percent since January, she said.

"It's not as bad at The Baltimore Sun as it has been at other newspapers" owned by Times Mirror, Ms. Hovdey said.

The drop in ad lineage at the Times is new, but it reflects "a normal cyclical downturn associated with a weakened economy," said Paul Wayne, who follows the news media for Los Angeles-based Crowell, Weedon & Co.

Among newspaper companies reporting lower quarterly earnings are Knight-Ridder Inc., which reported yesterday that its profit for the period slipped 3.2 percent, and the Washington Post Co., which announced Monday a 16.2 percent dip in earnings.

Operating margins are down in Times Mirror's broadcast and newspaper segments, but its book, magazine and cable television segments had good operating growth, Mr. Wayne said.

"All newspapers are having a heck of a time. But we're not worried about this company," he said.

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