Power Corp operating profit slips on financial unit

Tue May 15, 2012 11:57am EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Power Corp of Canada's (POW.TO: Quote) net operating profit edged lower in the first quarter as results at its financial services subsidiary, Power Financial, dipped, the holding company said on Tuesday.

Power, which is controlled by Montreal's Desmarais family, had operating earnings of C$209 million ($209 million), or 45 Canadian cents a share, down from C$218 million, or 47 Canadian cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Power Corp's main asset is a majority stake in Power Financial Corp (PWF.TO: Quote), which in turn owns majority stakes in Canada's No. 2 insurer, Great-West Lifeco (GWO.TO: Quote), and Canada's biggest asset manager, IGM Financial (IGM.TO: Quote), and a major stake in Swiss-based Pargesa Holding SA PARG.S.

Subsidiaries contributed C$244 million to Power Corp's operating earnings, down 1.6 percent from C$248 million for the first quarter of 2011, the company said.

The company reported a net charge from corporate activities of C$23 million, compared with a net charge of C$20 million in the corresponding period of 2011.

Net earnings were C$264 million, or 57 Canadian cents a share, up from C$216 million, or 47 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

"Power Corporation reported first-quarter fully diluted operating earnings per share of C$0.45, below the C$0.50 that we would have expected now that Great-West, IGM, and Pargesa have reported. The shortfall versus our estimate was driven by the corporate sector which is lumpy in nature," RBC Capital Markets analyst Andre-Philippe Hardy said in a research note.

Shares in Power Corp were up 0.7 percent at midday on Tuesday at C$24.70 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1=$1.00 Canadian)

(Reporting By Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Peter Galloway)