March 5, 2014 / 12:12 PM / 5 years ago

Torstar operating revenue falls as print ad sales stay weak

(Reuters) - Torstar Corp (TSb.TO), owner of Canada’s largest daily newspaper by circulation, said quarterly operating revenue fell more than 7 percent, hurt by weak print advertising.

Torstar is trying to make up for losses in its traditional print business by charging users for access to the online version of the Toronto Star newspaper and cutting costs.

“ ... We anticipate continued pressure on print advertising revenues, although we were pleased to experience some relative improvement in the print advertising trend in the fourth quarter,” Chief Executive David Holland said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company also publishes regional newspapers and Harlequin romance novels.

Net income attributable to Torstar’s shareholders fell to C$20.6 million ($18.5 million) in the fourth quarter ended December 31 from C$21.1 million, a year earlier.

The company’s income was flat on a per-share basis.

Total operating revenue fell to C$366.5 million from C$395.7 million.

Operating revenue from Torstar’s media business, its biggest, fell to C$271.4 million from C$290.8 million, a year earlier.

Torstar warned in July that the second half of 2013 would be tough for print revenue, as readers increasingly get their news through the Internet or on mobile devices.

The company began charging readers for online access to the Toronto Star last year.

Torstar said its restructuring initiatives, mainly in the media business, resulted in about 190 job cuts in the fourth quarter. The initiatives have resulted in total 510 job cuts in the media business in 2013.

Torstar’s shares closed at C$5.04 on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock has fallen about 37 percent in the year to Tuesday’s close.

($1 = 1.11 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Ashutosh Pandey in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey

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