May 6, 2009 / 11:14 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 2-Torstar loss widens on charge, weak ad market

* First-quarter loss C$0.27/shr vs C$0.04/shr

* Takes C$0.23/shr restructuring charge

* Expects advertising revenue to remain soft

* Stock drops 5 percent (Adds details, stock price)

TORONTO, May 6 (Reuters) - Book and newspaper publisher Torstar Corp (TSb.TO) reported a wider quarterly loss on Wednesday, hurt by a restructuring charge and lower advertising revenue in its newspapers and digital segment.

The publisher of the Toronto Star -- Canada’s biggest daily newspaper -- posted a net loss of C$21.4 million, or 27 Canadian cents a share, compared with a loss of C$3.0 million, or 4 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

Torstar said it recorded a restructuring charge of 23 Canadian cents a share in the quarter.

The company’s shares dropped 32 Canadian cents, or 5 percent, to C$6.09 on the Toronto Stock Exchange as investors digested the results.

Operating revenue fell to C$339.0 million from C$351.3 million a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected the company to earn 7 Canadian cents, before special items, on revenue of C$348.1 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Torstar said it expects advertising revenue to continue to be soft through the rest of the year.

“Looking forward, we are cautiously optimistic the worst is behind us,” Chief Executive Robert Prichard said in a statement.

However, he added that revenue at Torstar’s newspaper and digital segment fell 11 percent in the quarter “as the recession has hurt numerous advertising categories, led by employment, real estate and automotive.”

In February, Torstar announced Prichard would step down while the company fought to bring down its costs amid a slump in the advertising market. David Holland, the company’s chief financial officer, took over as interim CEO effective Wednesday.

$1=$1.17 Canadian Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski in Toronto and Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; editing by Rob Wilson

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