Earning Forecasts Down at Tribune and Knight Ridder

21 September 2001

Publishing and broadcasting group Tribune and newspaper company Knight Ridder on Wednesday became the latest media firms to warn that last week’s attacks on the US would dent their results.

Tribune, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, announced its third-quarter and full-year earnings would fall below forecasts in the wake of cancelled ads and higher news costs following the devastation.

“Our first priority was to keep the public informed throughout the crisis, which carries with it significant financial implications,” explained president/chief operating officer Dennis FitzSimons. “We published special editions at all of our newspapers, aired extended news coverage at our television and radio stations, and increased the traffic capacity at our websites.”

The group’s total revenues for August ($403 million) and for the year to date ($3.5 billion) were both down 6%, hit by an already weak ad market, especially in the financial, tech and entertainment categories.

Tribune declined to provide revised projections of Q3 or full-year earnings. Analysts had predicted 17 cents per share for the quarter and 98 cents for the whole year.

Knight Ridder, also blaming ad shortfalls following the disaster, was more forthcoming, forecasting Q3 earnings of 65 cents a share compared with analysts’ projections of 79 cents.

The group expects to “end up about as we did in the first two quarters of the year, that is, down roughly 25% in earnings per share.”

The attacks have already prompted profit warnings from a host of media groups, among them Dow Jones, Gannet, E W Scripps and the New York Times Company [WAMN: 19-Sep-01].

News source: MediaWeek.com (USA)