As the Star Tribune prepares to exit bankruptcy next month, it can point to July as a sign of better things.
On an operating basis, the Strib made $24,000 between June 29 and Aug. 2 — only the second month in the black since filing Chapter 11 in mid-January.
When the paper exits bankruptcy — currently projected for late September — an operating profit won’t be enough. Interest payments will resume, though at $9 million to $10 million a year, far below the $35 million due in 2008.
The Strib will service that debt with earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation (EBITDA) — a measure of cash flow the business spins off. In the newest reporting period, cash flow totaled $1.35 million; if operating revenues and costs stay the same, the paper should be able to pay its new owners, who (for now) are its secured creditors.
The reorganization plan forecasts $2.3 million in interest payments between October and December 2009 — but $9.4 million in EBITDA.
The Strib still posted a $831,000 net loss for June 29-Aug. 2 period, thanks to $1.37 million in bankruptcy-related costs, offset by a $518,000 income tax benefit. However, the paper is still sitting on $35 million in cash, its highest total since late March.
Sales totaled $16.6 million for this 35-day period. On a daily basis, revenue fell 11.2 percent from the June 1-28 report. However, compensation plunged faster: 17.7 percent. Throughout bankruptcy, there have been similar variations plus or minus, especially on the comp side.
The paper’s assets declined by $3.4 million, primarily on a drop in accounts receivable, while liabilities fell by $2.5 million, thanks to lower accounts payable and accrued compensation.