Times Mirror earnings rise 80% Return on capital nearly doubles

February 06, 1997|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

Times Mirror Co., publisher of The Baltimore Sun, the Los Angeles Times and Newsday, said yesterday that income from continuing operations rose 80 percent in 1996 to $1.51 a share from 84 cents per share, before special charges and the sale of its college publishing business.

"In addition to our sharp increase in earnings per share, the company's return on capital nearly doubled, from 5.7 percent in 1995 to 10.8 percent in 1996," said Mark H. Willes, Times Mirror chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a written statement.

"We also saw the first circulation growth in five years at our two largest newspapers, the Los Angeles Times and Newsday."

In 1996, net income was $1.53 per share, or $206.4 million, compared with $9.40 per share, or $1.23 billion, in the prior year.

The 1996 earnings were affected by an after-tax net gain of $32 million on the sale of the company's college publishing businesses and professional information companies. But that gain was almost completely offset by an after-tax charge of $30.3 million incurred in a fourth-quarter restructuring program.

The 1995 earnings were inflated by the $1.63 billion gain on the sale of Times Mirror's cable division as well as $478.5 million of after-tax restructuring charges.

Fourth-quarter net income in 1996 was 67 cents a share, or $78.7 million, compared with a net loss of $1.62 a share, or $141.6 million, the year before.

The fourth-quarter results exceeded Wall Street's estimate of 60 cents a share. Times Mirror shares slipped 25 cents to close at $46.875 on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday.

The increase in earnings came despite a decrease in 1996 revenues to $3.4 billion compared with $3.45 billion in 1995. Fourth-quarter 1996 revenues were $871.4 million compared with $966.7 million in the prior year. The declines were caused by the fourth-quarter sale of the college publishing businesses and second-half changes in distribution channels at Mosby-Year Book.

Times Mirror's newspapers posted the company's largest profits.

In 1996, the newspapers' operating profit rose 47.4 percent to $304.7 million, from $206.7 million in 1995, before restructuring charges.

In 1996, the newspaper division had an operating profit margin of 14.6 percent, the highest margin achieved since 1989.

Revenues for the newspaper division for 1996 rose to $2.08 billion, from $2.06 billion, because of an increase in help-wanted and national advertising.

Pub Date: 2/06/97

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