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Tribune Media Reports Higher 4th Quarter Profit

Tribune Media Company reported higher fourth quarter earnings on big increases in revenue from its TV businesses.

Net income rose to $314.7 million, or $3.14 a share, from $67.1 million, or 67 cents a share.

Revenue rose 85% to $553.4 million from $299.6 million in the quarter.

Tribune also said that it will pay shareholders a special cash dividend of $6.73 per share. It also said it plans to pay a regular quarterly cash dividend of 35 cents a share beginning in the second fiscal quarter of 2015. During 2014, the company spun off its publishing assets and sold its stakes in and property in Baltimore.

Television and Entertainment revenues rose 80% to $479 million. Ad revenues rose 13% to $381 million. Retransmission consent fees rose 68% to $58.4 million. Profits more than doubled to $202.6 million from $93.5 million a year ago.

Next year, the company said it expects net revenues to be between $2 billion and $2.03 billion and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to be between $480 million and $495 million.

Tribune also said it expects television and entertainment segment to have net revenues of between $1.75 billion and $1.77 billion, with core advertising revenue increasing in the low to mid-single digit range. It expects retrans payments to be between $275 million and $277 million and cable carriage fees to be between $85 million and $87 million.

With expenses for WGN American and Tribune studios at $130 million, the company sees adjusted TV EBITA at $500 million to $515 million.

Over the longer term, Tribune expects 30% year-over-year EBITDA growth in 2016. For 2016-2019, it expects WGN America and Tribune Studios revenue growth to be greater than 20% annually, with expense at about 50% of net revenues.

"For 2015, we are well-positioned to increase revenue by building our station group market share and growing substantially our retransmission consent and carriage fees. Importantly, we are accomplishing this in an off-cycle political year," CEO Peter Liguori said in a statement.

"In terms of WGN America, we are taking a measured approach to investments in programming, which we believe will increase distribution, advertising revenue, carriage fees and brand value," Liguori said. "We are particularly excited about the fourth quarter of 2015, when audiences will get a first-hand look at WGN America's future, as we will premiere a full slate of exclusive syndicated and original series, which we anticipate will drive significant revenue, EBITDA, and margin growth for years to come."