March 13, 2008 / 8:19 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 1-Power Corp profit jumps on holdings, items

(Adds operating results, share price)

TORONTO, March 13 (Reuters) - Power Corp of Canada (POW.TO) posted a 21 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday, citing profit growth at its various operating subsidiaries and unspecified one-time items.

The large Canadian company with stakes in financial services and media firms reported net income of C$350 million ($357 million), or 75 Canadian cents a basic share, for the three months ended Dec. 31.

That compared with profit of C$289 million, or 62 Canadian cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Operating earnings rose 3 percent to C$309 million, or 66 Canadian cents a share, from C$300 million or 64 Canadian cents in the 2006 fourth quarter.

Analysts expected Power Corp, which owns financial services group Power Financial Corp (PWF.TO) and media business Gesca Ltee, to earn 71 Canadian cents in the quarter, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company said its operating earnings reflected a C$20 million decrease in results from corporate activities, in particular due to a lower contribution from investment funds, and also reflected the 6.0 percent increase in Power Financial’s operating earnings, which was announced earlier on Thursday.

Power Corp is controlled by Montreal’s billionaire Desmarais family. Through its holdings, the company owns stakes in life insurer Great West Lifeco GWO.TO, mutual funds firm IGM Financial (IGM.TO) and Montreal’s La Presse newspaper.

Power Corp shares fell 1 percent to C$31.94 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday. They have lost 20 percent year-to-date.

Power Financial shares closed at C$32.99, and are down 19 percent year to date.

Both stocks hit new 52-week lows earlier this week.

$1=$0.98 Canadian Reporting by Lynne Olver; editing by Renato Andrade

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