May 9, 2012 / 10:53 AM / in 6 years

Torstar profit up, print ads still weak

(Reuters) - Canadian publisher Torstar Corp’s (TSb.TO) first-quarter profit almost doubled, but the company said the print advertising market was still weak.

Torstar — publisher of the Toronto Star, Canada’s biggest daily newspaper — has been increasing its investment in digital initiatives as the outlook for the print advertising market darkens.

Print advertising was challenged by economic uncertainty and shifts in spending by advertisers.

Torstar — which owns daily and community newspapers, the Workopolis website and publishes romance novels under the Harlequin banner — said it expects a modest decline in results at Harlequin this year.

Print advertising revenue was down at the Toronto Star and Metroland Media Group newspapers, while digital revenue was flat in the quarter, the company said in a statement.

The company, however, raised its quarterly dividend by 5 percent to 13.1 Canadian cents.

Net income attributable to equity shareholders rose to C$29.3 million, or 37 Canadian cents per share, from C$15.4 million, 19 Canadian cents per share, a year ago.

On an adjusted basis, it earned 24 Canadian cents per share, up from 22 Canadian cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Revenue fell slightly to C$350.8 million from C$351.4 million a year ago.

Shares of the company, which has a market capitalization of about C$713 million, closed at C$10.10 on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon

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