Astral Media shows continued growth in the second quarter of fiscal 2010


    
    -   24% increase in net earnings and 25% increase in basic EPS(1)
    -   4% increase in revenue and 6% increase in EBITDA(1),(2)
    
</pre>
<p/>
<p><span class="xn-location">MONTREAL</span>, <span class="xn-chron">April 8</span> /CNW Telbec/ - Astral Media Inc. (TSX: ACM.A/ACM.B) today reported its financial results for the second quarter ended <span class="xn-chron">February 28, 2010</span>, which saw continued growth in net earnings, EPS, revenues, EBITDA(2) and cash flow from operations(5).</p>
<p>Consolidated net earnings for the second quarter grew 24% to <span class="xn-money">$33.6 million</span> from <span class="xn-money">$27.1 million</span>(1) for the same period last year, while basic earnings per share grew 25% to <span class="xn-money">$0.60</span> from <span class="xn-money">$0.48</span> per share(1) last year. Consolidated revenues for the second quarter totalled <span class="xn-money">$218.3 million</span>, a 4% increase over the <span class="xn-money">$209.3 million</span> reported last year for the same period. For the second quarter, EBITDA(2) rose to <span class="xn-money">$62.6 million</span> from <span class="xn-money">$59.2 million</span>(1) for the same period last year, a 6% increase.</p>
<p>Consolidated net earnings for the first six months of Fiscal 2010 increased by 35% over last year, rising to <span class="xn-money">$89.9 million</span>(3),(4) (<span class="xn-money">$1.59</span> per share) from <span class="xn-money">$66.7 million</span>(1) (<span class="xn-money">$1.19</span> per share) last year. Consolidated revenues totalled <span class="xn-money">$469.0 million</span> for the first half of the year, an increase of 3% over the <span class="xn-money">$453.8 million</span> recorded last year for the same period. EBITDA(2) for the first six months grew by 18% to <span class="xn-money">$159.4 million</span>(4) from <span class="xn-money">$134.6 million</span>(1) for the same period last year.</p>
<p>"I am pleased by the strength of our second quarter results and delighted that all our business units continue to perform well in a challenging environment, allowing us to record a 54th consecutive quarter of profitable growth for Astral," said <span class="xn-person">Ian Greenberg</span>, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Throughout the economic downturn, we have continued to invest strategically in sales, programming and branding initiatives across all our platforms, making important headway in further strengthening our position in key Canadian markets."</p>
<p/>
<p>FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS</p>
<p/>
<p>Television</p>
<p/>
<pre>
    
    -   Revenue growth of 6% for the quarter (6% growth for the six-month
        period);
    -   11% advertising revenue growth for the quarter derived from air time
        (4% growth for the six-month period) and 7% growth in subscriber-
        related revenues for the quarter (7% growth for the six-month
        period);
    -   EBITDA(2) growth of 14% for the quarter(1) (22% growth for the six-
        month period(1),(4)).
    
</pre>
<p/>
<p>Radio</p>
<p/>
<pre>
    
    -   Revenue decline of 2% for the quarter (1% decline for the six-month
        period);
    -   EBITDA(2) decline of 14% for the quarter(1) (10% growth for the six-
        month period(1),(4));
    -   In December, rebranding of the EZ Rock 97.3 FM station in Toronto to
        boom 97.3 with a new format and a revised personality lineup;
    -   In January, "Les Grandes Gueules" made a return on air across the
        10-station NRJ network with their highly popular radio show.
    
</pre>
<p/>
<p>Outdoor Advertising</p>
<p/>
<pre>
    
    -   Revenue growth of 23% for the quarter (6% growth for the six-month
        period);
    -   EBITDA(2) growth of 107% for the quarter (17% growth for the six-
        month period).
    
</pre>
<p/>
<p>The unaudited interim consolidated financial statements with related notes and the Management's Discussion and Analysis are available on the Company's website: <a href="http://www.astralmedia.com">www.astralmedia.com</a>.</p>
<p/>
<p>There will be a conference call with analysts and media at <span class="xn-chron">10:30 a.m.</span> on <span class="xn-chron">Thursday, April 8, 2010</span>. To access the conference call dial 1-877-974-0445. The conference call will also be broadcast live and archived for a three-month period on the Astral Media website at <a href="http://www.astralmedia.com">www.astralmedia.com</a>.</p>
<p/>
<p>Astral Media is a leading Canadian media company, active in specialty and pay television, radio, outdoor advertising and interactive media. 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.</p>
<p/>
<p>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. Except as required under applicable securities regulations, we disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements.</p>
<p/>
<pre>
    
    1.  After the restatement of Fiscal 2009 figures following the adoption
        of Section 3064 of the CICA Handbook. See details in the Management's
        Discussion and Analysis.
    2.  EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation
        and amortization. See Appendix 1.
    3.  Excluding the impact of an $8.4 million ($0.15 per share) non-cash
        future income tax recovery resulting from future income tax rate
        changes enacted by the Ontario Government. See Appendix 1.
    4.  Including the $11.6 million in Part II licence fees accrual reversal
        ($8.0 million net of income taxes or $0.14 per share) in the first
        quarter of Fiscal 2010 ($3.2 million in Television and $8.4 million
        in Radio). See details in the Management's Discussion and Analysis.
    5.  See Appendix 1.


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Interim Consolidated Statements of Earnings
    for the three months ended February 28, 2010 and 2009
    (in thousands of Canadian dollars except for per-share data)
    (unaudited)

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

                                 3 months                    6 months
                         ------------------------   -------------------------
                              2010          2009          2010          2009
                         ----------------------------------------------------
                                    (Restated)(1)               (Restated)(1)

    Revenues             $ 218,281     $ 209,278     $ 468,966     $ 453,761

    Operating expenses     155,694       150,092       309,566       319,120
                         ----------------------------------------------------

    EBITDA(2)               62,587        59,186       159,400       134,641

      Depreciation           6,287         5,324        12,427        10,618
      Amortization of
       intangible assets     1,147         1,202         2,591         2,304
      Interest expense,
       net                   6,614         9,546        13,803        20,064
      Restructuring
       charges                   -         2,691             -         2,691
                         ----------------------------------------------------

    Earnings before
     income taxes           48,539        40,423       130,579        98,964
                         ----------------------------------------------------

    Income tax provision
     before undernoted      14,896        13,320        40,692        32,256
    Future income tax
     recovery resulting
     from income tax
     rate changes                -             -        (8,397)            -
                         ----------------------------------------------------
                            14,896        13,320        32,295        32,256
                         ----------------------------------------------------

    Net earnings         $  33,643     $  27,103     $  98,284     $  66,708
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Earnings per share
      - Basic            $    0.60     $    0.48     $    1.74     $    1.19
                         ----------------------------------------------------
      - Diluted          $    0.59     $    0.48     $    1.72     $    1.18
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ----------------
    (1) Following the adoption of Canadian Institute of Chartered
        Accountants' ("CICA") Handbook Section 3064, the Company has restated
        results of operations for the three- and six-month periods ended
        February 28, 2009 (see Note 1.b) of the unaudited interim
        consolidated financial statements).
    (2) See Appendix 1.


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Interim Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
    for the periods ended February 28, 2010 and 2009
    (in thousands of Canadian dollars)
    (unaudited)

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

                                 3 months                    6 months
                         ------------------------   -------------------------
                              2010          2009          2010          2009
                         ----------------------------------------------------
    Cash and cash                   (Restated)(1)               (Restated)(1)
     equivalents
     provided by
     (used for):

    OPERATING ACTIVITIES
      Net earnings       $  33,643     $  27,103     $  98,284     $  66,708

      Non-cash charges
       (credits):
        Part II licence
         fees accrual
         reversal                -             -       (11,552)            -
        Stock-based
         compensation
         costs               1,328         1,555         3,471         3,266
        Depreciation and
         amortization        7,434         6,526        15,018        12,922
        Imputed interest
         on other
         non-current
         liabilities           524           660         1,083         1,319
        Amortization of
         deferred
         financing costs       171           171           342           343
        Future income tax
         expense before
         undernoted          2,590         2,059         7,048         4,238
        Future income tax
         recovery
         resulting from
         income tax rate
         changes                 -             -        (8,397)            -
                         ----------------------------------------------------

      Cash flow from
       operations(2)        45,690        38,074       105,297        88,796

      Net change in non-
       cash operating
       items                10,133        20,760       (22,397)        4,530
                         ----------------------------------------------------

    Cash flow from
     operating activities   55,823        58,834        82,900        93,326
                         ----------------------------------------------------

    INVESTING ACTIVITIES
      Short-term
       investments -
       cashed                    -             -             -         9,962
      Additions to
       property, plant
       and equipment       (11,039)       (9,821)      (20,083)      (20,027)
      Additions to other
       intangible and
       non-current assets   (4,042)         (591)       (5,573)       (1,295)
      Business
       acquisition, net
       of cash acquired          -             -             -        (2,787)
                         ----------------------------------------------------
      Cash flow used
       for investing
       activities          (15,081)      (10,412)      (25,656)      (14,147)
                         ----------------------------------------------------

    FINANCING ACTIVITIES
      Repayment of long-
       term debt           (30,000)      (10,000)      (40,000)      (20,000)
      Stock options
       exercised             7,274            85         8,114           165
      Shares repurchased      (858)            -          (858)            -
      Dividends            (14,141)      (14,030)      (14,145)      (14,034)
                         ----------------------------------------------------
    Cash flow used for
     financing activities  (37,725)      (23,945)      (46,889)      (33,869)
                         ----------------------------------------------------

    Net change in cash
     and cash equivalents    3,017        24,477        10,355        45,310
    Cash and cash
     equivalents
     (bank overdraft) -
     beginning of period    30,438        17,189        23,100        (3,644)
                         ----------------------------------------------------
    Cash and cash
     equivalents - end
     of period           $  33,455     $  41,666     $  33,455     $  41,666
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (1) Following the adoption of CICA Handbook Section 3064, the Company has
        restated results of operations for the three- and six-month periods
        ended February 28, 2009 (see Note 1.b) of the unaudited interim
        consolidated financial statements).
    (2) See Appendix 1.


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Interim Consolidated Balance Sheets as at
    (in thousands of Canadian dollars)
    (unaudited)

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

                                                   February 28,    August 31,
                                                          2010          2009
                                                 ----------------------------
                                                                (Restated)(1)

    ASSETS

    Current
      Cash and cash equivalents                    $    33,455   $    23,100
      Accounts receivable                              146,437       143,803
      Program and film rights                          102,547        92,545
      Prepaid expenses and other current assets         29,725        27,904
                                                 ----------------------------
                                                       312,164       287,352

    Program and film rights                             62,692        61,219
    Property, plant and equipment                      157,934       151,637
    Broadcast licences                               1,408,037     1,408,037
    Goodwill                                           356,945       356,945
    Other intangible and non-current assets             53,399        50,894
    Future income tax assets                            66,473        79,522
                                                 ----------------------------

                                                   $ 2,417,644   $ 2,395,606
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    LIABILITIES

    Current
      Accounts payable and accrued liabilities     $   105,283   $   138,771
      Income taxes payable                              17,847        12,191
      Program and film rights payable                   65,539        58,220
      Future income tax liabilities                      3,658         4,481
                                                 ----------------------------
                                                       192,327       213,663

    Long-term debt                                     653,103       692,761
    Future income tax liabilities                      231,585       243,353
    Other non-current liabilities                       67,008        65,267
    Derivative financial instruments                    16,265        22,377
                                                 ----------------------------
                                                     1,160,288     1,237,421
                                                 ----------------------------

    SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY

    Capital stock                                      765,594       753,028
                                                 ----------------------------
    Contributed surplus                                 15,703        17,068
                                                 ----------------------------
    Retained earnings                                  487,863       404,198
    Accumulated other comprehensive loss               (11,804)      (16,109)
                                                 ----------------------------
                                                       476,059       388,089
                                                 ----------------------------
                                                     1,257,356     1,158,185
                                                 ----------------------------

                                                   $ 2,417,644   $ 2,395,606
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (1) Following the adoption of CICA Handbook Section 3064, the Company has
        restated its consolidated balance sheet as at August 31, 2009 (see
        Note 1.b) of the unaudited interim consolidated financial
        statements).


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Business Segments
    for the periods ended February 28, 2010 and 2009
    (in thousands)
    (unaudited)

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

                                 3 months                    6 months
                         ------------------------   -------------------------
                              2010          2009          2010          2009
                         ------------------------   -------------------------
                                    (Restated)(1)               (Restated)(1)
    REVENUES

    Television           $ 129,448     $ 121,778     $ 270,675     $ 255,217
    Radio                   73,906        75,334       163,071       165,192
    Outdoor Advertising     14,927        12,166        35,220        33,352
                         ----------------------------------------------------

                         $ 218,281     $ 209,278     $ 468,966     $ 453,761
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    EBITDA(2)

    Television           $  46,198     $  40,649     $ 102,806     $  84,557
    Radio                   19,975        23,235        59,511        53,891
    Outdoor Advertising      3,091         1,495        10,870         9,311
    Corporate Costs         (6,677)       (6,193)      (13,787)      (13,118)
                         ----------------------------------------------------

                         $  62,587     $  59,186     $ 159,400     $ 134,641
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ----------------
    (1) Following the adoption of CICA Handbook Section 3064, the Company has
        restated results of operations for the three- andsix-month periods
        ended February 28, 2009 (see Note 1.b) of the unaudited interim
        consolidated financial statements).
    (2) See Appendix 1.


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Appendix 1
    Supplementary Measures
    for the periods ended February 28, 2010 and 2009
    (unaudited)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
</pre>
<p/>
<p>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:</p>
<p>EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) is provided to assist investors in determining the ability of the Company to generate cash flow from operating activities and to cover financial charges. Other items such as restructuring charges are excluded from earnings in the determination of EBITDA as they are not considered to be in the ordinary course of business. EBITDA is also an indicator widely used for business valuation purposes. EBITDA margin is defined as the ratio obtained by dividing EBITDA by revenues.</p>
<p>The following table reconciles GAAP measures disclosed in the unaudited interim consolidated statements of earnings for the periods ended <span class="xn-chron">February 28, 2010</span> and 2009 to EBITDA:</p>
<p/>
<pre>
    
                                 3 months                    6 months
                         ----------------------------------------------------
    (in thousands of $)       2010          2009          2010          2009
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    (Restated)(1)               (Restated)(1)
    Earnings before
     income taxes           48,539        40,423       130,579        98,964
    Depreciation and
     amortization            7,434         6,526        15,018        12,922
    Interest expense, net    6,614         9,546        13,803        20,064
    Restructuring charges        -         2,691             -         2,691
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    EBITDA                  62,587        59,186       159,400       134,641
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
</pre>
<p/>
<p>Net earnings and basic earnings per share 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 non-cash future income tax recovery or expense resulting from income tax rate changes over which the Company has no control.</p>
<p>The following tables reconcile GAAP measures disclosed in the unaudited interim consolidated statements of earnings for the periods ended <span class="xn-chron">February 28, 2010</span> and 2009 to net earnings and basic earnings per share, before the impact of future income tax rate changes.</p>
<p/>
<pre>
    
                                 3 months                    6 months
                         ----------------------------------------------------
    (in thousands of $)       2010          2009          2010          2009
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    (Restated)(1)               (Restated)(1)
    Net earnings            33,643        27,103        98,284        66,708
    Future income tax
     recovery resulting
     from income tax rate
     changes                     -             -        (8,397)            -
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Net earnings before
     the impact of future
     income tax rate
     changes                33,643        27,103        89,887        66,708
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                 3 months                    6 months
                         ----------------------------------------------------
    (in dollars)              2010          2009          2010          2009
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    (Restated)(1)               (Restated)(1)
    Basic earnings per
     share                    0.60          0.48          1.74          1.19
    Impact of future
     income tax rate
     changes                     -             -         (0.15)            -
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Basic earnings per
     share, before the
     impact of future
     income tax rate
     changes                  0.60          0.48          1.59          1.19
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (1) Following the adoption of CICA Handbook Section 3064, the Company has
        restated results of operations for the three- and six-month periods
        ended February 28, 2009 (see Note 1.b) of the unaudited interim
        consolidated financial statements).
    
</pre>
<p/>
<p>Cash flow from operations is defined as cash flow from 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 operating items.</p>
<p>The following table reconciles GAAP measures disclosed in the unaudited interim consolidated statements of cash flows for the periods ended <span class="xn-chron">February 28, 2010</span> and 2009 to cash flow from operations:</p>
<p/>
<pre>
    
                                 3 months                    6 months
                         ----------------------------------------------------
    (in thousands of $)       2010          2009          2010          2009
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    (Restated)(1)               (Restated)(1)
    Cash flow from
     operating activities   55,823        58,834        82,900        93,326
    Net change in non-
     cash operating items  (10,133)      (20,760)       22,397        (4,530)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cash flow from
     operations             45,690        38,074       105,297        88,796
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
</pre>
<p/>
<p>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.</p>
<p/>
<pre>
    
    (1) Following the adoption of CICA Handbook Section 3064, the Company has
        restated results of operations for the three- and six-month periods
        ended February 28, 2009 (see Note 1.b) of the unaudited interim
        consolidated financial statements).
    

For further information: For further information: Media: Pierre Boisseau, Assistant Vice-President, Communications, Astral Media Inc., (514) 939-5000; Financial Analysts: Claude Gagnon, Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Astral Media Inc., (514) 939-5000

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