Times Mirror Profit Slips in 2nd Quarter

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Times Mirror Co. reported Tuesday that it earned $47 million in the second quarter, compared to $85 million a year earlier, when profit was boosted by a $23-million pretax gain from the sales of timberlands. The Los Angeles-based media company said its second-quarter revenue was $906.6 million, a 5.3% increase over the same period in 1989, when company revenue totaled $861.3 million.

Robert F. Erburu, chairman and chief executive, said the earnings downturn resulted from decreased advertising at the company's newspapers. Newspaper publishing revenue was virtually flat, and operating profit in that division declined 41.4%.

"As our newspaper advertising volume reports indicated earlier, we saw no improvement in the second quarter as weak economic conditions continued to adversely affect our newspaper and other advertising-driven businesses," Erburu said.

"In particular, the disappointing performance of the newspaper publishing group reflects the increased costs of circulation gains, which have made the Los Angeles Times the nation's largest metropolitan daily newspaper, and the impact of the depressed Northeastern economy on advertising demand."

Times Mirror properties include the Los Angeles Times, Newsday in New York, the Baltimore Sun papers and the Hartford Courant. The company also has interests in broadcast television, cable television and book and magazine publishing.

Jeffrey Logsdon, an analyst at Seidler Amdec Securities Inc. in Los Angeles, said Times Mirror's quarterly report was no surprise, since advertising revenue is down throughout the newspaper industry.

"It's been a very tough advertising marketplace, as indicated by everybody's numbers," Logsdon said. "I doubt you'll see much health until we come toward the Christmas holiday season."

Erburu predicted that increased Los Angeles Times advertising rates implemented in the wake of circulation gains will help defray higher operating and newsprint costs in the second half of 1990.

He also noted that Times Mirror's businesses that are not dependent on advertising revenue continued to report increased operating earnings.

The book, magazine and other publishing segment posted a 22.3% gain in operating profit over the 1989 quarter, while cable television operating profit grew by 7.7%.

Broadcast television's operating profit was down 19.3% because of the effects of decreased demand for local advertising.

Interest expense for the second quarter of 1990 was $18.4 million, up 46.5% over the same period last year.

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