July 15, 2010 / 1:33 PM / in 7 years

UPDATE 2-Astral profit lifted by ad, subscription strength

* Q3 EPS C$0.85 vs C$0.78 year ago

* Revenue rises 9 pct to C$253.6 mln

* EBITDA 4 pct higher at C$84.9 mln (Adds analyst comments, stock price, details)

OTTAWA, July 15 (Reuters) - Astral Media Inc’s ACMa.TO ACMb.TO third-quarter profit rose 9 percent, lifted by growing advertising and subscription revenue, the specialty television and radio broadcaster said on Thursday.

The Montreal-based company, whose results largely matched analyst expectations, said there is a “slowly recovering economic and advertising market environment”.

Astral, which operates television, outdoor advertising and radio business units, said net profit rose to C$48.5 million ($46.6 million), or 85 Canadian cents a share, from C$44.3 million, or 78 Canadian cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue was 9 percent higher at C$253.6 million.

Analysts had expected earnings of 86 Canadian cents a share, on revenue of C$249 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Astral said advertising revenue rose 11 percent and subscription revenue grew 7 percent.

Profit margins were slightly lower than expected, reflecting higher television and radio programming costs, RBC Capital Markets analyst Drew McReynolds said in a note.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Casey said margin pressure is expected to continue for the radio division due to higher copyright fees.

The company’s more heavily traded class A shares were 18 Canadian cents higher at C$36.87 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday morning. So far this year, the stock has climbed about 10.5 percent.

$1=$1.04 Canadian Reporting by Susan Taylor, with additional reporting by Ashutosh Joshi in Bangalore; editing by Rob Wilson

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