Tribune Media Programming Cost-Cuts Pay Off in Q2 Profit

Revenue falls shy of Wall Street’s mark on slight political ad-sales gain

Last Updated: August 9, 2016 @ 5:35 AM

Tribune Media’s cost-cutting measures are paying off — particularly when political ad sales aren’t quite where they could be.

The company reported second-quarter 2016 adjusted earnings per share of 42 cents on $526.1 million in revenue. That means it bested market analysts’ expectations at the bottom-line, but whiffed up top. Wall Street had forecast earnings per share (EPS) of 40 cents on $538.7 million in revenue, per Yahoo Finance. That whole “adjusted” thing is particularly important in Tribune’s case, as it had to record a huge income tax hit related to its 2008 Newsday transaction.

On the TV/Entertainment end, revenue rose 5 percent. Retransmission and carriage fees aided that uptick more than advertising did. The real star though was lowered programming and promotion costs.

Digital and Data lost money, as did the catch-all Corporate segment.

“Our operating results for the second quarter and first-half of this year demonstrate that our fundamental strategies continue to drive solid growth in revenue and Adjusted EBITDA,” President and CEO Peter Liguori said in a prepared statement. “Television and Entertainment net core advertising was up in the first six months of the year and flat in the second quarter after adjusting for the two fewer days in the quarter. Gross political advertising revenue is on track to be a record year and to meet our $200 million target. Retransmission consent and carriage fee revenues continue to increase, and WGN America is capitalizing on the success of ‘Underground,’ ‘Outsiders’ and ‘Salem.'”

“Thanks to disciplined cost management, coupled with lower programming expenses, quarterly operating expenses are down from the second quarter of 2015,” he continued. “Importantly, we continue to make progress on our ongoing strategic review, including the monetization of our valuable real estate portfolio in what have been highly competitive bidding processes. We are confident we can deliver strong Adjusted EBITDA growth in the second half of 2016 and are reaffirming our full-year consolidated financial guidance.”

TRCO stock closed Monday at $37.30 per share, down 33 cents.

Tribune Media executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter more in-depth.