As it prepares to be acquired by Nexstar Media, Tribune Media reported lower profits in the fourth quarter as revenue gains were offset by tax benefits realized a year ago.
Net income fell to $132.8 million, or $1.50 a share, from $328.8 million, or $3.72 per share, a year ago, the company had a $256 million benefit from the new federal tax law.
Revenue rose 18% to $578.7 million.
Operating profit for the company’s television and entertainment operations was $184.4 million, up from $127.2 million a year ago.
Television and entertainment advertising revenues increased 25% to $406.7 million. Core ad revenue (which exclude political and digital revenue) fell 4% to $286.9 million.
Net political revenue was $99.8 million, up 30% from the Q4 in the 2016 election year.
Retransmission and carriage fee revenue rose 13% to $158.3 million.
During the quarter, Tribune sold its remaining 5% interest in the Chicago Cubs for $107.5 million.
"2018 was an outstanding year for Tribune Media, We reported record consolidated revenue and Adjusted EBITDA for both the fourth quarter and full year 2018, powered by exceptionally strong political advertising revenues, significant growth in retransmission and carriage fee revenues, and a meaningful contribution to our operating results from our cable network, WGN America,” said CEO Peter Kern.
"We continued maximizing the monetization of our real estate portfolio, reached long-term agreements with several cable and satellite providers, and, most importantly, announced our agreement to be acquired by Nexstar Media Group at a price that creates significant value for our shareholders,” Kern said. “We continue working closely with Nexstar to gain regulatory approval of the transaction and look forward to its anticipated closing later this year."