Astral’s quarter profit jumps

Robust period due to ad, subscriber revs

TORONTO — A jump in ad revenue at Montreal-based Astral Media, Canada’s largest specialty TV company, produced a 22% jump in third-quarter earnings.

The bottom line for the quarter ended May 31 was C$24.5 million ($18.6 million), up from $15.3 million, on revenues that climbed 11% to $106.3 million.

“Excellent advertising revenue growth in our specialty television, radio and outdoor divisions combined with the sustained strength of our pay television subscriber revenues have made this a robust quarter for Astral Media,” said prexy-CEO Ian Greenberg.

Company’s three divisions together enjoyed ad revenue gains of 14% to $43.2 million. Consolidated TV revenue, which also benefited from a 10% uptick in subscriber revs, jumped 11% to $76.2 million; radio revenue was up 10% to $22.1 million; and outdoor advertising revs climbed 18% to $8 million.

During the quarter Astral launched subscriber video-on-demand (SVOD). Service is offered by cablers Videotron in the province of Quebec and Rogers Communications in Ontario. Company brass said in a conference call that it’s too early to tell how SVOD is being received, but they hope it will reduce subscriber churn.

Astral is debt-free and has a cash balance of $45.6 million. Net earnings growth target for continuing operations for the year is 18%-20% — last year the company’s year-end bottom line was $54.2 million — and the company hopes to achieve a cash balance of $53.2 million-$57 million.

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