Ads boost Times Mirror profit 7.8%

Eastern papers lead way as estimates are exceeded

Publishing

April 21, 1999|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

LOS ANGELES -- Times Mirror Co. said yesterday that first-quarter profit rose 7.8 percent on advertising gains, particularly at its Eastern papers.

Net income rose to $48.8 million, or 58 cents a share, from profit from continuing operations of $45.9 million, or 45 cents. The results beat the average analyst estimate of 55 cents a share from First Call Corp. Revenue rose 4.5 percent to $746 million from $714 million.

Ad revenue, excluding acquisitions, rose 4.3 percent at the Eastern U.S. newspapers, including Long Island's Newsday and The Sun, and 2.3 percent at the Los Angeles Times, where strong national advertising helped stem continued weakness in help-wanted ads.

The Times reported a lower profit because of expenses from a recent overhaul that cut about 830 jobs and added new local sections and a national edition.

"Times Mirror's profitability has improved dramatically" since Chairman Mark H. Willes joined the company in 1995, said analyst Peter Appert at BT Alex. Brown Inc.

Revenue from newspaper publishing, which made up about 76 percent of total first-quarter revenue, rose 5.6 percent to $573.5 million from $542.9 million, reflecting recent acquisitions. Excluding purchases, revenue rose 2 percent, with the Eastern newspapers up 2.8 percent and the Times up 1.1 percent.

The company's magazine publishing business, which includes Field & Stream and Outdoor Life, posted break-even results, compared with a loss a year ago. Revenue rose 4.9 percent to $68.8 million from $65.6 million.

Times Mirror Co. shares closed at $61.875 yesterday, down 25 cents.

Pub Date: 4/21/99

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