Dec 01, 2020
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Astral quarter net jumps 58%

MONTREAL (CP) _ Canwest did it. Telus and BCE followed suit. But Astral Media will resist the temptation to transform the company into an income trust, says Claude Gagnon, chief financial officer.

"We often asked ourselves the question and the answer stayed the same for months _ we believe that our current structure is ideal at this time," Gagnon said Tuesday after the company released its latest quarterly results.

Gagnon said he believes conversion to an income trust would reduce Astral’s margins and its ability to make major acquisitions. And the Montreal-headquartered operator of specialty and pay television channels, radio stations and outdoor advertising (TSX:ACM.A) has already expressed a desire to expand beyond its current holdings.

At the end of fiscal 2006, Astral had $114 million in its coffers, up from the year before, despite $92 million in share buybacks over the course of the year. Gagnon indicated during a conference call that Astral will raise its dividend and undertake another share buyback to benefit shareholders, rather than change its structure.

Astral earnings from continuing operations crept up slightly from a year earlier in its latest quarter, as revenue edged higher by 4.4 per cent. Its net earnings were $52.5 million or 97 cents per share in its fourth quarter ended Aug. 31.

This was up from $33.3 million or 59 cents per share a year earlier, thanks to a $23.6-million future income tax benefit due to reduced corporate tax rates.

Revenue was $146.1 million, up from $140 million in the year-earlier period, and pre-tax earnings from continuing operations were $43.5 million, compared with $43 million a year earlier. While fourth-quarter revenue increased 4.4 per cent, operating costs increased 2.3 per cent to $95.8 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization advanced 8.4 per cent to $50.3 million.

Revenue for the full financial year increased eight per cent to $593.7 million from $549.6 million, with net income of $123.5 million or $2.26 per share, compared with prior-year earnings of $107.6 million, $1.90 per share. Ian Greenberg, president and CEO, said the 2006 financial year was Astral’s 10th in a row with growth in net profits.

"Both subscriber and advertising revenues for the television group were up eight per cent year-over-year with overall pay-television subscribers reaching 1.6 million," Greenberg said.

"In radio, revenues increased by seven per cent over last year and, as a result, its EBITDA margin reached 34.7 per cent for the year. In outdoor, the group’s renewed focus on customer service has delivered an 11 per cent increase in revenues for fiscal 2006 with a 19 per cent increase in EBITDA."

Results for the fourth quarter and the year included an after-tax impairment charge of $2.9 million on the radiolibre.ca musical website launched in January. In trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Astral A shares fell $1.06 to $37.99, a drop of 2.71 per cent as investors appeared disappointed the company does not plan to become an income trust.

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Headline, Industry News

Astral quarter net jumps 58%

MONTREAL (CP) _ Canwest did it. Telus and BCE followed suit. But Astral Media will resist the temptation to transform the company into an income trust, says Claude Gagnon, chief financial officer.

"We often asked ourselves the question and the answer stayed the same for months _ we believe that our current structure is ideal at this time," Gagnon said Tuesday after the company released its latest quarterly results.

Gagnon said he believes conversion to an income trust would reduce Astral’s margins and its ability to make major acquisitions. And the Montreal-headquartered operator of specialty and pay television channels, radio stations and outdoor advertising (TSX:ACM.A) has already expressed a desire to expand beyond its current holdings.

At the end of fiscal 2006, Astral had $114 million in its coffers, up from the year before, despite $92 million in share buybacks over the course of the year. Gagnon indicated during a conference call that Astral will raise its dividend and undertake another share buyback to benefit shareholders, rather than change its structure.

Astral earnings from continuing operations crept up slightly from a year earlier in its latest quarter, as revenue edged higher by 4.4 per cent. Its net earnings were $52.5 million or 97 cents per share in its fourth quarter ended Aug. 31.

This was up from $33.3 million or 59 cents per share a year earlier, thanks to a $23.6-million future income tax benefit due to reduced corporate tax rates.

Revenue was $146.1 million, up from $140 million in the year-earlier period, and pre-tax earnings from continuing operations were $43.5 million, compared with $43 million a year earlier. While fourth-quarter revenue increased 4.4 per cent, operating costs increased 2.3 per cent to $95.8 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization advanced 8.4 per cent to $50.3 million.

Revenue for the full financial year increased eight per cent to $593.7 million from $549.6 million, with net income of $123.5 million or $2.26 per share, compared with prior-year earnings of $107.6 million, $1.90 per share. Ian Greenberg, president and CEO, said the 2006 financial year was Astral’s 10th in a row with growth in net profits.

"Both subscriber and advertising revenues for the television group were up eight per cent year-over-year with overall pay-television subscribers reaching 1.6 million," Greenberg said.

"In radio, revenues increased by seven per cent over last year and, as a result, its EBITDA margin reached 34.7 per cent for the year. In outdoor, the group’s renewed focus on customer service has delivered an 11 per cent increase in revenues for fiscal 2006 with a 19 per cent increase in EBITDA."

Results for the fourth quarter and the year included an after-tax impairment charge of $2.9 million on the radiolibre.ca musical website launched in January. In trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Astral A shares fell $1.06 to $37.99, a drop of 2.71 per cent as investors appeared disappointed the company does not plan to become an income trust.

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Headline, Industry News

Astral quarter net jumps 58%

MONTREAL (CP) _ Canwest did it. Telus and BCE followed suit. But Astral Media will resist the temptation to transform the company into an income trust, says Claude Gagnon, chief financial officer.

"We often asked ourselves the question and the answer stayed the same for months _ we believe that our current structure is ideal at this time," Gagnon said Tuesday after the company released its latest quarterly results.

Gagnon said he believes conversion to an income trust would reduce Astral’s margins and its ability to make major acquisitions. And the Montreal-headquartered operator of specialty and pay television channels, radio stations and outdoor advertising (TSX:ACM.A) has already expressed a desire to expand beyond its current holdings.

At the end of fiscal 2006, Astral had $114 million in its coffers, up from the year before, despite $92 million in share buybacks over the course of the year. Gagnon indicated during a conference call that Astral will raise its dividend and undertake another share buyback to benefit shareholders, rather than change its structure.

Astral earnings from continuing operations crept up slightly from a year earlier in its latest quarter, as revenue edged higher by 4.4 per cent. Its net earnings were $52.5 million or 97 cents per share in its fourth quarter ended Aug. 31.

This was up from $33.3 million or 59 cents per share a year earlier, thanks to a $23.6-million future income tax benefit due to reduced corporate tax rates.

Revenue was $146.1 million, up from $140 million in the year-earlier period, and pre-tax earnings from continuing operations were $43.5 million, compared with $43 million a year earlier. While fourth-quarter revenue increased 4.4 per cent, operating costs increased 2.3 per cent to $95.8 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization advanced 8.4 per cent to $50.3 million.

Revenue for the full financial year increased eight per cent to $593.7 million from $549.6 million, with net income of $123.5 million or $2.26 per share, compared with prior-year earnings of $107.6 million, $1.90 per share. Ian Greenberg, president and CEO, said the 2006 financial year was Astral’s 10th in a row with growth in net profits.

"Both subscriber and advertising revenues for the television group were up eight per cent year-over-year with overall pay-television subscribers reaching 1.6 million," Greenberg said.

"In radio, revenues increased by seven per cent over last year and, as a result, its EBITDA margin reached 34.7 per cent for the year. In outdoor, the group’s renewed focus on customer service has delivered an 11 per cent increase in revenues for fiscal 2006 with a 19 per cent increase in EBITDA."

Results for the fourth quarter and the year included an after-tax impairment charge of $2.9 million on the radiolibre.ca musical website launched in January. In trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Astral A shares fell $1.06 to $37.99, a drop of 2.71 per cent as investors appeared disappointed the company does not plan to become an income trust.

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