In a conference call today with Wall Street analysts, Tribune Company executives said they will cover the billion-dollar tax bill by increasing corporate debt and won't be forced to sell off any assets—"such as selling its stake in The Food Network, as one analyst suggested," Editor & Publisher reports. Tribune prepared for the unfavorable Tax Court ruling this summer by issuing $750 million in five- and ten-year bonds.
“The feeling from outside [counsel] was that the court case went very well in December, but we always indicated that you never know in litigation,” [CEO Dennis] FitzSimons said. “Yeah, we were optimistic, but again, tax court, it’s not a favorable forum for taxpayers. ... Other taxpayers have been successful on appeal, but we would not predict anything at this point.”
Tribune stock is off about 3% so far today. Now that the whopping tax liability and legal expenses of $3 million have to be considered part of the price for buying Times Mirror in 2000, FitzSimons was asked if the return on the deal is more than the cost. Also from E&P:
He said he didn’t know: “Normally, it takes five or six years for an acquisition to cover its cost of capital. We’re still analyzing it at this point.”
Here's this morning's LAT story. The Tax Court ruling came out too late last night for most financial journalists to put together much analysis.
* Investors don't buy it 4:20 pm
Yesterday: Tribune to pay $1 billion in back taxes