Astral Media reports its 12th consecutive year of growth



    
                Strong increases in EPS, Net Earnings, EBITDA(2),
         Revenues and Cash Flow for the fourth quarter and Fiscal 2008

    The following results include the operations of the assets acquired from
                   Standard Radio, effective October 29, 2007.
    

    MONTREAL, Oct. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Astral Media Inc. (TSX: ACM.A/ACM.B)
today reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended
August 31, 2008, which concluded another year of strong financial performance.

    
    FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

    - 11% increase in basic EPS from continuing operations(1) for the year
      (11% for the fourth quarter)(1)
    - 19% increase in net earnings from continuing operations(1) for the year
      (20% for the fourth quarter)(1)
    - 40% increase in EBITDA(2) for the year (47% for the fourth quarter)(2)
    - 35% increase in revenues for the year (43% for the fourth quarter)
    - 35% increase in cash flow from continuing operations(3) for the year
      (37% for the fourth quarter)(3)

    "This marks a 12th consecutive year of profitable growth for Astral Media.
This unique track record in our industry speaks directly to our strong and
stable management team, disciplined financial and operational practices and to
the dedication of more than 2,800 employees", said Ian Greenberg, President
and Chief Executive Officer of Astral Media. He added: "I am very proud of
delivering such strong results in the context of a very busy year at Astral
Media, which included the integration of the Standard Radio acquisition, the
rollout of the Toronto Street Furniture program and the launches of Playhouse
Disney and TELETOON Retro".
    Consolidated net earnings from continuing operations for Fiscal 2008
increased by 19%, rising to $150.5 million(1) ($2.67 basic EPS, $2.63 diluted
EPS)(1) from $126.6 million(1) ($2.40 basic EPS, $2.35 diluted EPS)(1) last
year. Consolidated net earnings from continuing operations for the fourth
quarter of Fiscal 2008 increased by 20% to $40.8 million(1) ($0.72 basic EPS,
$0.72 diluted EPS)(1), from $34.0 million(1) ($0.65 basic EPS, $0.63 diluted
EPS)(1) last year.
    Consolidated revenues totalled $865.4 million for Fiscal 2008, an increase
of 35% over the $640.5 million recorded in Fiscal 2007. Consolidated revenues
were $229.9 million for the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2008, up 43% from the
$160.6 million for the same quarter last year.
    EBITDA(2) for the year increased by 40% to $289.6 million from
$206.7 million for the same period last year. EBITDA(2) was up 47% to
$81.1 million in the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2008 compared to $55.1 million
for the same quarter last year. Cash flow from continuing operations(3) rose
35% year-over-year totalling $205.3 million for the year compared to
$152.0 million for Fiscal 2007. Cash flow from continuing operations(3) rose
by 37% to $60.1 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $43.9 million for
the same quarter last year.

    OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS FOR FISCAL 2008

    Television

    - Revenue growth of 5% to $497.0 million;
    - Advertising revenue growth of 12% to $108.2 million;
    - EBITDA(2) growth of 5% to $179.5 million;
    - Launch of TELETOON Retro in English;
    - Launch of Playhouse Disney;
    - Announcement of the of launch of HBO Canada, a The Movie Network
      multiplex channel (after year-end);
    - Launch of TELETOON Rétro in French (after year-end);
    - Rebranding and repositioning of MusiquePlus (after year-end).

    Radio

    - Revenue growth of 156% to $296.3 million;
    - EBITDA(2) growth of 171% to $111.1 million;
    - EBITDA(2) margin rose from 35.5% to 37.5%;
    - Launch of a radio station in Regina;
    - Granting by the CRTC of a radio licence in the Ottawa-Gatineau market;
    - Launch of the first Virgin Radio station in North America, Virgin Radio
      999 in Toronto.

    Outdoor Advertising

    - Revenue growth of 45% to 72.1 million;
    - EBITDA(2) growth of 42% to $23.6 million;
    - Rollout of TSF contract.

    Astral Media is a leading Canadian media company, active in specialty and
pay television, radio, outdoor advertising and iMedia. Astral Media's solid
and dynamic presence in the country's major markets rests on its commitment to
offer a unique combination of high-quality, targeted media for all its
audiences.

    The audited consolidated financial statements with related notes and
Management's Discussion and Analysis are available on the Company's website:
www.astralmedia.com.

    There will be a conference call with analysts and media at 2:00 p.m. on
Wednesday, October 29, 2008. To access the conference call dial
1-800-732-0232. The conference call will also be broadcast live and archived
for a three-month period on the Astral Media website at www.astralmedia.com.

    This press release contains certain forward-looking statements concerning
the future performance of the Company. These forward-looking statements are
based on current expectations. We caution that all forward-looking information
is inherently uncertain and actual results may differ materially from the
assumptions, estimates or expectations reflected or contained in the
forward-looking information, and that actual future performance will be
affected by a number of factors, including technological change, economic
conditions, regulatory change, competitive factors and changes in accounting
rules or standards, many of which are beyond the Company's control. We
disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking
statements.

    ---------------
    1. Excluding the impact of the future income tax recovery resulting from
       future income tax rate changes in Fiscal 2008 and 2007. See
       Appendix 1.
    2. EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and
       amortization. See Appendix 1.
    3. See Appendix 1.


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Consolidated Statements of Earnings
    for the periods ended August 31, 2008 and 2007
    (in thousands of Canadian dollars except for per-share data)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                      3 months                12 months
                              ----------------------- -----------------------
                                    2008        2007        2008        2007
                              -----------------------------------------------
                                     (unaudited)

    Revenues                   $ 229,872   $ 160,584   $ 865,370   $ 640,518

    Operating expenses           148,818     105,483     575,792     433,824
                              -----------------------------------------------
    EBITDA(1)                     81,054      55,101     289,578     206,694

      Depreciation                 6,068       4,308      21,617      15,518
      Amortization of
       intangible assets             318         115       1,195         434
      Interest expense
       (income), net              11,101      (1,132)     37,465      (4,170)
                              -----------------------------------------------

    Earnings from continuing
     operations before income
     taxes                        63,567      51,810     229,301     194,912
                              -----------------------------------------------

    Income tax provision
     before undernoted            22,761      17,794      78,839      68,288
    Future income tax
     recovery resulting from
     income tax rate changes           -      (4,069)    (28,259)     (4,069)
                              -----------------------------------------------
                                  22,761      13,725      50,580      64,219
                              -----------------------------------------------
    Net earnings from
    continuing operations         40,806      38,085     178,721     130,693

    Net earnings (net loss)
     from discontinued
     operations                   (1,868)        (35)     (1,711)        501
                              -----------------------------------------------

    Net earnings               $  39,938   $  38,050   $ 177,010   $ 131,194
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Earnings per share from
     continuing operations
      - Basic                  $    0.72   $    0.72   $    3.18   $    2.48
                              -----------------------------------------------
      - Diluted                $    0.72   $    0.71   $    3.12   $    2.42

    Earnings per share
      - Basic                  $    0.69   $    0.72   $    3.15   $    2.49
                              -----------------------------------------------
      - Diluted                $    0.68   $    0.71   $    3.09   $    2.43
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Weighted average number
     of shares outstanding -
     basic (in thousands)         56,362      52,713      56,257      52,763
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ---------------
    (1) See Appendix 1


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
    for the periods ended August 31, 2008 and 2007
    (in thousands of Canadian dollars)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                      3 months                12 months
                              ----------------------- -----------------------
                                    2008        2007        2008        2007
                              -----------------------------------------------
                                     (unaudited)
    Cash and cash equivalents
     provided by (used for):

    OPERATING ACTIVITIES

      Net earnings from
       continuing operations   $  40,806   $  38,085   $ 178,721   $ 130,693
      Non-cash charges
       (credits):
        Depreciation and
         amortization              6,386       4,423      22,812      15,952
        Stock-based
         compensation              1,415       1,571       6,270       6,063
        Future income tax
         expense before
         undernoted               10,533       3,884      22,715       3,360
        Future income tax
         recovery resulting
         from income tax rate
         changes                       -      (4,069)    (28,259)     (4,069)
        Imputed interest on
         other non-current
         liabilities                 743           -       2,507           -
        Amortization of
         deferred financing
         costs                       172           -         576           -
                              -----------------------------------------------
      Cash flow from
       continuing
       operations(1)              60,055      43,894     205,342     151,999
      Net change in non-cash
       operating items            (4,263)     (7,297)    (56,352)    (21,596)
                              -----------------------------------------------
      Cash flow from
       continuing operating
       activities                 55,792      36,597     148,990     130,403
                              -----------------------------------------------
    DISCONTINUED OPERATIONS         (237)       (487)       (591)       (621)
                              -----------------------------------------------
    INVESTING ACTIVITIES
      Short-term investments -
       purchased                  (9,962)          -      (9,962)    (51,128)
      Short-term investments -
       cashed                          -      19,913      51,128      44,774
      Additions to property,
       plant and equipment       (18,036)     (7,297)    (35,995)    (17,296)
      Business acquisition,
       net of cash acquired       (3,040)    (32,992)   (907,156)    (79,786)
      Business pre-operating
       costs                        (733)          -      (2,685)          -
      Outdoor advertising
       licence fees                    -     (28,898)          -     (28,898)
      Deferred business
       acquisition costs               -      (2,392)          -      (2,392)
                              -----------------------------------------------
                                 (31,771)    (51,666)   (904,670)   (134,726)
                              -----------------------------------------------
    FINANCING ACTIVITIES
      Deferred financing costs         -        (667)     (2,835)       (667)
      Increase in long-term
       debt                            -           -     825,000           -
      Repayment of long-term
       debt                      (10,000)          -     (10,000)          -
      Shares repurchased         (28,502)     (7,499)    (55,416)    (24,054)
      Stock options exercised        226         797       3,182       3,088
      Dividends                  (14,144)    (10,553)    (28,541)    (21,098)
                              -----------------------------------------------
                                 (52,420)    (17,922)    731,390     (42,731)
                              -----------------------------------------------
    Net change in cash and
     cash equivalents            (28,636)    (33,478)    (24,881)    (47,675)
    Cash and cash
     equivalents - beginning
     of period                    24,992      54,715      21,237      68,912
                              -----------------------------------------------
    Cash and cash equivalents
     (bank overdraft) - end
     of period                 $  (3,644)  $  21,237   $  (3,644)  $  21,237
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (1) See Appendix 1


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Consolidated Balance Sheets as at August 31
    (in thousands of Canadian dollars)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                                          2008          2007
                                                  ---------------------------
    ASSETS

    Current
      Cash and cash equivalents                    $         -   $    21,237
      Short-term investments                             9,962        51,128
      Accounts receivable                              155,841        96,995
      Income taxes receivable                              919             -
      Program and film rights                           79,305        72,791
      Prepaid expenses and other current assets         28,954        18,331
                                                  ---------------------------
                                                       274,981       260,482

    Program and film rights                             69,502        58,854
    Other non-current assets                            47,751        49,088
    Property, plant and equipment                      133,484        83,367
    Broadcast licences                               1,807,496       950,698
    Goodwill                                           356,945       116,016
    Future income tax assets                            26,448         8,549
                                                  ---------------------------

                                                   $ 2,716,607   $ 1,527,054
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    LIABILITIES

    Current
      Bank overdraft                               $     3,644   $         -
      Accounts payable and accrued liabilities         129,906        83,160
      Income taxes payable                                   -        19,501
      Program and film rights payable                   64,060        70,325
      Future income tax liabilities                      5,951         3,246
                                                  ---------------------------
                                                       203,561       176,232
                                                  ---------------------------
    Long-term debt                                     812,074             -
                                                  ---------------------------
    Future income tax liabilities                      254,912       267,240
                                                  ---------------------------
    Other non-current liabilities                       78,445        26,673
                                                  ---------------------------
    Derivative financial instruments                    18,374             -
                                                  ---------------------------
    Liabilities of discontinued operations               2,748         2,183
                                                  ---------------------------
    SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY

    Capital stock                                      748,121       561,589
                                                  ---------------------------
    Contributed surplus                                 14,409        11,645
                                                  ---------------------------
    Retained earnings                                  597,188       481,492
    Accumulated other comprehensive income             (13,225)            -
                                                  ---------------------------
                                                       583,963       481,492
                                                  ---------------------------
                                                     1,346,493     1,054,726
                                                  ---------------------------
                                                   $ 2,716,607   $ 1,527,054
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Business Segments
    for the periods ended August 31
    (in thousands)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                      3 months                12 months
                              ----------------------- -----------------------
                                    2008        2007        2008        2007
                              -----------------------------------------------
                                     (unaudited)
    REVENUES

    Television                 $ 119,786   $ 116,860   $ 497,007   $ 475,042
    Radio                         88,720      28,875     296,302     115,701
    Outdoor Advertising           21,366      14,849      72,061      49,775
                              -----------------------------------------------

                               $ 229,872   $ 160,584   $ 865,370   $ 640,518
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    EBITDA(1)

    Television                 $  41,815   $  42,900   $ 179,513   $ 170,903
    Radio                         37,191      11,435     111,140      41,017
    Outdoor Advertising            8,370       6,472      23,645      16,703
    Corporate Costs               (6,322)     (5,706)    (24,720)    (21,929)
                              -----------------------------------------------

                               $  81,054   $  55,101   $ 289,578   $ 206,694
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ---------------
    (1) See Appendix 1


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Appendix 1
    Supplementary Measures
    for the periods ended August 31
    (unaudited)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition to discussing earnings measures in accordance with Canadian
generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"), this Press Release provides
the following supplementary measures which are also factors used by management
in monitoring and evaluating the performance of the Company and its business
segments:
    EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) is
provided to assist investors in determining the ability of the Company to
generate cash from continuing operating activities and to cover financial
charges. It is also an indicator widely used for business valuation purposes.
EBITDA margin is defined as the ratio obtained by dividing EBITDA by revenues.
    The following table reconciles GAAP measures disclosed in the consolidated
statements of earnings for the periods ended August 31, 2008 and 2007 to
EBITDA:

                                      3 months                12 months
                              ----------------------- -----------------------
    (in thousands of $)             2008        2007        2008        2007
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Earnings from continuing
     operations before income
     taxes                        63,567      51,810     229,301     194,912
    Depreciation and
     amortization                  6,386       4,423      22,812      15,952
    Interest expense (income),
     net                          11,101      (1,132)     37,465      (4,170)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    EBITDA                        81,054      55,101     289,578     206,694
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Net earnings and earnings per share from continuing operations before the
impact of future income tax rate changes. These measures provide an indication
of the Company's ability to generate earnings and cash flows from its ongoing
operations, by excluding the impact of the non-cash future income tax
recoveries or expenses resulting from income tax rate changes over which the
Company has no control.
    The following tables reconcile GAAP measures disclosed in the consolidated
statements of earnings for the periods ended August 31, 2008 and 2007 to net
earnings and earnings per share, before the impact of future income tax rate
changes.

                                      3 months                12 months
                              ----------------------- -----------------------
    (in thousands of $)             2008        2007        2008        2007
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Net earnings from
     continuing operations        40,806      38,085     178,721     130,693
    Future income tax
     recovery resulting from
     income tax rate changes           -      (4,069)    (28,259)     (4,069)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Net earnings from
     continuing operations
     before the impact of
     future income tax rate
     changes                      40,806      34,016     150,462     126,624
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                      3 months                12 months
                              ----------------------- -----------------------
    (in dollars)                    2008        2007        2008        2007
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basic earnings per share
     from continuing
     operations                     0.72        0.72        3.18        2.48
    Earnings per share -
     impact of future income
     tax rate changes                  -       (0.07)      (0.51)      (0.08)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Basic earnings per share
     from continuing
     operations before the
     impact of future income
     tax rate changes               0.72        0.65        2.67        2.40
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                      3 months                12 months
                              ----------------------- -----------------------
    (in dollars)                    2008        2007        2008        2007
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Diluted earnings per
     share from continuing
     operations                     0.72        0.71        3.12        2.42
    Earnings per share -
     impact of future income
     tax rate changes                  -       (0.08)      (0.49)      (0.07)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Diluted earnings per
     share from continuing
     operations before the
     impact of future income
     tax rate changes               0.72        0.63        2.63        2.35
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Cash flow from continuing operations is defined as cash flow from
continuing operating activities before the net change in non-cash operating
items. This measure provides an indication of the Company's ability to
generate cash flows without considering certain timing and other factors
causing variations in non-cash items.
    The following table reconciles GAAP measures disclosed in the consolidated
statements of cash flows for the periods ended August 31, 2008 and 2007 to
cash flow from continuing operations:

                                      3 months                12 months
                              ----------------------- -----------------------
    (in thousands of $)             2008        2007        2008        2007
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Cash flow from continuing
     operating activities         55,792      36,597     148,990     130,403
    Net change in non-cash
     operating items               4,263       7,297      56,352      21,596
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cash flow from continuing
     operations                   60,055      43,894     205,342     151,999
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


    The above supplementary measures do not have a standardized meaning
prescribed by GAAP and may not be comparable to similar measures presented by
other companies.
    




For further information:

For further information: Media: Alain Bergeron, Vice-President, Brand
Management and Corporate Communications, Astral Media Inc., 514 939-5000;
Analysts: Robert Fortier, Vice-President Finance and Corporate Controller,
Astral Media Inc., 514 939-5000

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