Tribune Co., the media conglomerate whose holdings include the Cubs, said in a regulatory filing Friday that last month’s trade of Sosa to the Baltimore Orioles will cause it to take a $13.5 million pretax charge in the first quarter.
The costly transaction merited only a two-sentence mention in Tribune’s 114-page annual report, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company, which typically mentions the baseball team only in passing in its filings and on conference calls with analysts, did not discuss the reason.
But Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said at a media-industry investment conference this week that the charge results from a “timing impact.” He said the timing of the trade caused Tribune to accelerate the payment of Sosa’s salary, reducing the company’s first-quarter net income by nearly 3 cents per share.
The public discussion of the Sosa trade’s financial effect caused a chuckle among the crowd of institutional investors, who normally focus on results from the company’s 14 daily newspapers and 26 television stations.
“I hear some laughter out there,” FitzSimons said at the conference, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. “Sammy wasn’t cheap.”
Writes Ben Schwartz,
Besides the details on Sammy’s trade, my eyes still pop when I see that the Chubs were purchased for $20.5 million from the Wrigley Gum Co. You can’t put Julia Roberts in a movie for that kind of change today.