April 11, 2008 / 11:24 AM / 10 years ago

CanWest posts loss as writers' strike hurts TV ops

TORONTO (Reuters) - CanWest Global Communications Corp CGS.TO, Canada’s biggest media company, reported a second-quarter loss on Friday, hit by restructuring expenses and the impact of the lengthy U.S. television writers’ strike.

<p>CanWest Global Communications Corp.'s President &amp; CEO Leonard Asper in Toronto January 11, 2007. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski</p>

CanWest, which owns the Global television network, a national newspaper chain and a stable of specialty-TV channels, said it lost C$33.9 million ($33.2 million), or 19 Canadian cents a share, in the three months ended Feb 29. That compared with a profit of C$7.1 million, or 4 Canadian cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue for the quarter was C$701.9 million, up 9 percent from C$643.7 million, with the company’s publishing arm generating C$306.5 million and its television division adding C$372.9 million.

Analysts were expecting CanWest to lose 7 Canadian cents per share before one-time items on revenue of C$707.3 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenues at CanWest’s publishing unit edged up to C$306.5 million from C$302.6 million a year earlier. The company said it continued to clamp down on costs in the publishing unit.

The company’s Canadian TV unit, excluding the CW Media specialty television operations, posted a weaker quarter.

“Overall, results are good, with most of our business units performing well in spite of a tepid advertising market and in spite of the impact of the writers’ strike,” Chief Executive Leonard Asper told analysts in a conference call.

The company said the strike disrupted program schedules as well as viewing patterns.

Without the impact of long-term liabilities, foreign currency considerations and restructuring expenses, earnings in the quarter would have been $4 million, or 2 Canadian cents a share, up from break even, or nil per share, for the same quarter last year.

CanWest and an affiliate of U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs GS.N recently bought Canadian specialty-TV group Alliance Atlantis Communications for C$2.3 billion.

“The integration of Alliance Atlantis is well under way,” Asper told analysts. “Synergies are tracking as planned and on budget.”

The Winnipeg, Manitoba-based company said that as it moves into the second half of the year, it expects “improvement in overall operating results.”

It said its Canadian spring TV schedule will feature new episodes of hit shows such as “The Office,” “The Simpsons” and “House,” among others, which it hopes will lure advertisers.

CanWest shares, which have lost more than half their value since last April, were down 15 Canadian cents at C$4.60 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday morning.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski and Scott Anderson; Editing by Peter Galloway

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