Torstar warns of weak spending by advertisers

Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:45am EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Torstar Corp TSb.TO, the publisher of the Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper, warned of further weakness in spending by advertisers after reporting a 44 percent fall in third-quarter profit.

Torstar, which publishes more than 100 newspapers and Harlequin romance novels, has been focusing on its digital products such as thestar.com, toronto.com and Wheels.ca to make up for advertisers' waning interest in print media.

Many newspaper publishers around the world have been affected by lower advertising as readers shift online. New York Times Co (NYT.N: Quote) reported worse-than-expected third-quarter results earlier this month as advertisers cut spending on both print and digital outlets due to the global economic slowdown.

"The environment continues to feel challenging and visibility remains limited on how advertising revenues (in media business of newspapers and digital publishing) will evolve over the balance of the year," Torstar said.

The media business accounted for more than two-thirds of Torstar's total revenue of C$355.3 million in the third quarter.

Print advertising revenue was down at the Toronto Star and Metroland Media Group newspapers through the first nine months, the company said.

The book publishing business is expected to see a modest decline in results in the current quarter due to a rise in digital royalty rates and a weak global economy.

Net income attributable to equity shareholders fell to C$14.1 million, or 18 Canadian cents per share, in the third quarter, from C$25.2 million, or 32 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Operating revenue in the media business declined 6 percent to C$247.5 million, while it fell 7 percent to C$107.8 million in the book publishing business. Earnings were 29 Canadian cents per share on an adjusted basis.

Analysts had expected earnings of 33 Canadian cents per share on revenue of C$371.6 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company's shares, which have fallen 16 percent in the past six months, closed at C$8.60 on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Maneesha Tiwari in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)