July 30, 2014 / 10:59 AM / 4 years ago

Poor print ad sales hurt Toronto Star publisher's revenue

(Reuters) - Canada’s Torstar Corp (TSb.TO) reported a 7 percent fall in revenue at its media business, which publishes the country’s largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star.

Revenue in the media business fell to C$237.3 million ($218.45 million) as the company continued to struggle with low print advertising sales.

Torstar, almost one-quarter owned by Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd FH.TO, said print advertising revenue was likely to remain under pressure for the rest of the year.

The publisher recently slashed costs in an attempt to counter shrinking ad sales.

Torstar agreed in May to sell its Harlequin romance-novel publishing business to News Corp (NWSA.O), in a deal that calmed investor fears that the publisher would have to cut its dividend payout.

The move has made the company more reliant on a recovery in ad sales, which have been shifting to the online platform, though not fast enough to counter falling print ad revenue.

Torstar also aims to make up for losses in its traditional print business by charging readers for access to the online version of the Toronto Star.

The company reported adjusted second-quarter operating revenue of C$225.6 million, missing the average analyst estimate of C$229.5 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Excluding restructuring and other costs, Torstar earned 20 Canadian cents per share, below the analysts’ estimate of 23 Canadian cents per share.

The Toronto-based publisher said its net income from continuing operations rose to C$18.1 million, or 23 Canadian cents per share, for the second quarter ended June 30, from C$12.6 million, or 16 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

($1 = 1.0863 Canadian Dollars)

Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto and Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das and Simon Jennings

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