January 9, 2008 / 12:50 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Corus posts higher profit, hikes dividend

(Adds details, stock price)

TORONTO, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Radio and specialty-TV company Corus Entertainment Inc CJRb.TO reported a 7-percent jump in its first-quarter profit on Wednesday, and said it will boost its annual dividend by 20 percent because of revenue growth.

The Canadian firm, which also owns the Nelvana animation house, said it earned C$39.4 million, or 91 Canadian cents a share, in the quarter, up from C$36.7 million, or 85 Canadian cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Revenue for quarter ended Nov. 30 was C$214.8 million, up 3 percent from C$209.2 million last year.

The results fell short of analysts’ expectations, however. Analysts had expected the company to earn C$1.02 a share before one-time items on revenue of C$222.7 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Corus shares fell 80 Canadian cents to C$44.50, on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday after the results were released.

Corus said its TV operations contributed revenue of C$126.1 million, up from C$122.6 million a year earlier. The company said that specialty advertising growth of 2 percent and subscriber revenue growth of 4 percent led the increase.

In radio, revenue rose to C$79.5 million, up 5 percent from C$75.6 million a year earlier.

Corus said a “strong free cash flow” enabled it to boost its dividend, with payments starting next month.

“These solid results were in line with our expectations and our continued confidence in our business has enabled us to once again substantially increase our dividend,” Chief Executive John Cassaday said in a statement.

“We are also pleased to have announced our intention to extend our share buyback program.”

Class A and B shareholders will receive annual dividends of C$1.19 and C$1.20 respectively, up from the previous rates of 99 Canadian cents and C$1.00 respectively. $1=$1.00 Canadian) (Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski and Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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