Friday, January 20, 2006


Anyone see this? Tribune Company stock slipped $0.77 to $30.05 today, right at its 52-week low. This follows a $0.99 drop yesterday, and a 28% decrease over all of 2005. The Trib cited the following reasons for the drop:

Revenue from newspapers was down 4.2% due to the timing of Christmas on Sunday (fewer ad buys cost $6mm in revenue) and the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in Florida.

Advertising revenue in the publishing division fell 4.5% including a 5.2% decrease in retail ad revenue and a 9.6% decline in national ad revenue, mainly at the Los Angeles Times.

Circulation revenue was down 3.5% from volume declines at most of its newspapers.

Broadcasting and entertainment group revenue (the group that includes the Cubs) in December declined 11.9% with television revenue down 10.1% on weak ad revenue in most markets.

So, with all this coming down the pike, anyone think that a sale of the Cubs is more or less likely?

If management decides that the company needs to "focus on core business" to turn around that area's performance, it's very possible, even probable that the Cubs would be sold. Given the Crain's articles and other sources discussing a possible sale, and given the Cubs' penchant for tipping their hand about future moves, I'd venture that it's no worse than 50-50 that the Chicago National League Ball Club has a new owner this time next year.

As this page suggested, it might even explain Andy MacPhail backing off contract extensions for Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker in an attempt to not saddle a new owner with sunk costs.

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