Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tribune Media Reports Profit, As Earnings Fall Short

Tribune Media, the entertainment company that includes WGN America, on Wednesday reported improved fourth-quarter financials, but they fell shy of Wall Street expectations.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the company, which in late January said that president and CEO Peter Liguori, who has been in place since January 2013, has decided to step down in early March, has been growing its retransmission consent fees and expanding original programming at WGN America.

TV station giant Sinclair Broadcast Group has approached Tribune Media about a possible takeover or combination in preliminary talks, Reuters reported ahead of the earnings update. Tribune Media shares rose more than 12 percent early in Wednesday's trading session.

Tribune Media's fourth-quarter earnings reached $19 million, compared with a loss of $380.9 million in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 11 percent to $529.6 million.

Peter Liquori
Operating profit of $113.2 million compared with a year-ago operating loss of $396.9 million. Those figures included non-cash impairment charges of $3 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 and $385 million related to goodwill and other intangible assets in the fourth quarter of 2015. Operating profit before impairments reached $116.6 million, compared to an operating loss of $11.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. "The increase was primarily due to higher political revenues and the absence of a $73.8 million program impairment charge related to the writedown of the acquired syndicated programming Person of Interest and Elementary at WGN America" recorded in the year-ago period, the company said.

Tribune Media has said that Peter Kern will serve as interim CEO while the company looks for a permanent CEO. Sony Corp. has announced that Liguori will take on a role advising the Japanese company's board.

"Bolstered by record fourth quarter revenues, Tribune Media's financial results for 2016 were very strong," said Liguori. "These results are a clear demonstration that our operational strategies continue delivering value for our shareholders. In addition, last year's monetization of real estate assets for more than $500 million and the recent sale of Gracenote enables Tribune Media to be a more focused television company, uniquely positioned to take advantage of the opportunities presented by a rapidly changing media environment."

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