WRAPUP 2-Canada's Astral, Corus profits, shares take divergent paths

Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:23pm EDT
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* Corus profit plunges as television revenue slips

* Astral reports solid growth in TV, outdoor advertising

* Astral says BCE deal should close by June, end July latest

By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, April 11 (Reuters) - Two of Canada's biggest independent media companies handed in very different earnings report cards on Thursday, with profits at Corus Entertainment Inc plunging 81 percent while rival Astral Media Inc reported a 9 percent jump in earnings.

Shares of Corus plunged 5 percent, while shares of Astral were little changed.

Astral, which is waiting for regulators to rule on a revised proposal to be acquired by BCE Inc, Canada's biggest telecom provider and owner of the CTV television network, said growth at its main television operation and smaller outdoor advertising unit more than offset a slip in radio revenue.

Astral said it saw no reason for the good times to end as it expects to lure more TV subscribers with its recently launched video streaming services, which allow customers to watch movies on mobile devices such as Apple's iPad, something that should help bring in more advertisers and perhaps boost ad rates.

"When I look at bookings I'm optimistic...that we should be looking at mid-single-digit increases in advertising for the balance of the year," Ian Greenberg, chief executive of Astral, told analysts on a conference call.   Continued...