August 5, 2008 / 1:00 PM / 10 years ago

Quebecor profit jumps as cable, newspapers grow

TORONTO (Reuters) - Publishing and media group Quebecor Inc (QBRa.TO)(QBRb.TO) said on Tuesday second-quarter profit jumped 33 percent amid stronger revenue in its cable and newspaper segments.

A Quebecor World truck sits at the company's plant in LaSalle, Quebec January 21, 2008. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Quebecor, which owns cable and telecom operator Videotron Ltd and a chain of newspapers, said it was positioned to grow further after the conclusion of Canada’s auction of wireless spectrum, or the airwaves over which wireless data such as mobile phone services are delivered.

The company spent C$554.5 million ($533.2 million) on bids at the auction and has provisionally won licenses across its home province of Quebec, as well as part of the Toronto area.

Quebecor and other companies which have TV and telecom holdings use bundles that package phone, cable and Internet services in order to lure customers. Adding wireless to its lineup could allow Quebecor to gain more traction with subscribers.

Quebecor’s Class B shares, which are more heavily traded, fell 4 Canadian cents to C$24.47 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, while the benchmark S&P/TSX stock index dropped 2 percent in morning trading.

The company said net income grew to C$57.3 million, or 88 Canadian cents a share, in the period ended June 30, from C$43.2 million, or 66 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

Quebecor, based in Montreal, said revenue rose 15.6 percent to C$942.3 million, from C$815.3 million a year earlier.

Earnings were boosted by its cable segment which had a strong customer base, and its newspaper segment, which saw higher revenue after the acquisition of Osprey Media Income Fund in August 2007, the company said.

Revenue at its cable segment climbed to C$447.5 million from C$371.9 million, and grew to C$307.5 million at its newspaper unit from C$241.8 million.

Quarter-over-quarter net customer growth was 51,300 for cable telephone service, down from 55,000 a year earlier, and 23,600 for cable Internet access, down from 26,000.

The cable television unit saw growth of 7,800 customers, up from 1,800 in 2007. Wireless telephone saw growth of 4,700 activated phones, down considerably from 10,400.

Quebecor holds a controlling interest in commercial printer Quebecor World IQW.TO. Quebecor World’s shares are nearly worthless as it restructures under court protection from creditors which it first requested in late January.

($1=$1.04 Canadian)

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski and Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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