Astral Q1 profit rises on outdoor ad growth

Thu Feb 2, 2012 1:28pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Astral Media ACMa.To posted a 5 percent rise in quarterly profit on Thursday as solid growth in outdoor advertising offset sluggish radio revenue, while the company's television sector posted a slight gain in a tough advertising climate.

The Montreal-based company said net profit rose to C$55.8 million ($55.8 million), or C$1 a share, from C$53.1 million, or 92 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue rose 2 percent to C$271.1 million, while outdoor advertising revenue rose 13 percent.

The per share profit was in line with the average of analysts expectations, as compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, while revenue was marginally lower.

Astral, which gets the vast majority of its sales from broadcasting, has pay- and specialty-television operations as well as radio stations and outdoor advertising.

Television revenues rose by 3 percent, with TV advertising sales up 1 percent. The number of pay-TV subscribers rose slightly after two quarters of losses.

Astral's stock, which is down about 18 percent from a peak in late 2010, was up 1 percent to C$35.11 early on Thursday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The company's chief financial officer, Claude Gagnon, resigned on Monday and was replaced by Robert Fortier.

($1=$1.00 Canadian)

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto and Maneesha Tiwari in Bangalore; Editing by Peter Galloway)