Los Angeles Times parent Tribune Co. on Thursday reported sharply higher third-quarter earnings due to a one-time gain, but sluggish advertising sales resulted in lower revenues compared to a year ago.


Chicago-based Tribune, which also owns the Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles television station KTLA-TV (Channel 5) reported net income of $162.2 million (65 cents a share), aided by a gain of 22 cents a share from the restructuring of partnerships it inherited when it bought Times Mirror. A year ago, Tribune earned $21.9 million (7 cents) which included a charge related to the 2000 purchase of Times Mirror Co., which then owned the Times.


Excluding the one-time gain, Tribune earned only 43 cents a share, below the 45 cents that a consensus of analysts polled by Thomson Financial poll had expected. Revenue fell almost 3 percent to $1.35 billion as publishing ad revenue dropped 2 percent. Analysts had expected revenue of $1.37 billion.


The publishing division's operating profit fell 17 percent to $141 million. Overall ad revenue at the Times was down 2 percent in the quarter.


Tribune announced on Wednesday that the special committee had retained Morgan Stanley as its financial adviser as it considers strategic alternatives, which could include a possible sale or breakup of the company.

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