Astral Media shows continuous growth in the second quarter for fiscal 2009



    MONTREAL, April 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Astral Media Inc. (TSX: ACM.A/ACM.B)
today reported its financial results for the second quarter ended February 28,
2009, which saw continued growth in revenues, EBITDA(1), EPS(2) and cash flow
from continuing operations(3).
    Consolidated revenues for the second quarter totalled $209.3 million, a
2% increase over the $205.9 million reported last year for the same period.
Consolidated revenues totalled $453.8 million for the first half(4) of the
year, an increase of 12% over the $403.6 million recorded last year for the
same period. For the second quarter, EBITDA(1) rose to $61.9 million from
$61.1 million for the same period last year. EBITDA(1) for the first six
months(4) increased by 12% to $141.4 million from $126.5 million for the same
period last year.
    Consolidated net earnings from continuing operations for the second
quarter were flat against the same quarter last year at $28.9 million(2),
while basic earnings per share from continuing operations grew to $0.52 from
$0.51(2) last year. Consolidated net earnings from continuing operations for
the first six months of Fiscal 2009 increased by 7%(2) over last year, rising
to $71.3 million ($1.27 per share) from $66.5 million(2) ($1.19 per share(2))
last year. These results, for both the second quarter and the six-month period
ended February 28, 2009, include $2.7 million of restructuring charges
incurred by our Radio Group in the second quarter as a result of the
integration of the assets acquired from Standard Radio.
    "The strength and resilience of these second quarter results are another
illustration of the importance of having a diversified and balanced revenue
mix under challenging economic conditions. While some of our media platforms
or geographic operations faced increased volatility, other segments of the
Company performed very strongly, thus allowing us to record a 50th consecutive
quarter of growth," said Ian Greenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer.
    "While maintaining our very healthy balance sheet, we continue to invest
in the future of our core business sectors as we navigate through these
difficult times. HBO Canada, Virgin Radio and the recent announcement of an
innovative Digital outdoor advertising network are examples of such a
commitment and the positive results it continues to yield for the Company,"
continued Mr. Greenberg.

    
    OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

    - The announcement of the Company's new Digital outdoor advertising
      network, the first of its kind in Canada, comprised of ten 14-feet high
      by 48-feet wide LED faces in the Montréal area;
    - The launch, in January 2009, of three additional Virgin Radio stations
      in Vancouver, Ottawa and Montréal, taking the network of Virgin Radio
      stations to four, including Virgin Radio 999 in Toronto, launched in
      August 2008.
    

    The unaudited interim 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 10:30 a.m. on
Thursday, April 9, 2009. 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.

    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.

    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. EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and
       amortization, and excludes the restructuring charges. See Appendix 1.
    2. Excluding the favourable impact of the future income tax recovery of
       $28.3 million recorded in the second quarter of Fiscal 2008, resulting
       from income tax rate changes enacted during the quarter (See
       Appendix 1).
    3. Excluding restructuring charges.
    4. The six-month period of Fiscal 2009 includes six months of operations
       of the assets acquired from Standard Radio as compared to only four
       months for Fiscal 2008.


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Interim Consolidated Statements of Earnings
    for the periods ended February 28, 2009 and February 29, 2008
    (in thousands of Canadian dollars except for per-share data)
    (unaudited)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       3 months                6 months
                               ----------------------  ----------------------
                                    2009        2008        2009        2008
                               ----------------------------------------------

    Revenues                   $ 209,278   $ 205,850   $ 453,761   $ 403,554

    Operating expenses           147,364     144,787     312,382     277,040
                               ----------------------------------------------

    EBITDA(1)                     61,914      61,063     141,379     126,514

      Depreciation                 6,221       5,613      12,362      10,214
      Amortization of
       intangible assets             468         368         882         554
      Interest expense, net        9,546      11,630      20,064      15,109
      Restructuring charges        2,691           -       2,691           -
                               ----------------------------------------------

    Earnings from continuing
     operations before
     income taxes                 42,988      43,452     105,380     100,637
                               ----------------------------------------------

    Income tax provision
     before undernoted            14,041      14,506      34,071      34,185
    Future income tax
     recovery resulting from
     income tax rate changes           -     (28,259)          -     (28,259)
                               ----------------------------------------------
                                  14,041     (13,753)     34,071       5,926
                               ----------------------------------------------
    Net earnings from
     continuing operations        28,947      57,205      71,309      94,711

    Net earnings from
     discontinued operations           -          49           -          79
                               ----------------------------------------------

    Net earnings               $  28,947   $  57,254   $  71,309   $  94,790
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Earnings per share from
     continuing operations
     and Earnings per share
      - Basic                  $    0.52   $    1.00   $    1.27   $    1.70
                               ----------------------------------------------
      - Diluted                $    0.51   $    0.98   $    1.26   $    1.66
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Weighted average number
     of shares outstanding -
     basic                        56,102      57,356      56,056      55,812
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

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


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Interim Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
    for the periods ended February 28, 2009 and February 29, 2008
    (in thousands of Canadian dollars)
    (unaudited)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       3 months                6 months
                               ----------------------  ----------------------
                                    2009        2008        2009        2008
                               ----------------------------------------------

    Cash and cash equivalents
     provided by (used for):

    OPERATING ACTIVITIES
      Net earnings from
       continuing operations   $  28,947   $  57,205   $  71,309   $  94,711

      Non-cash charges
       (credits):
        Depreciation and
         amortization              6,689       5,981      13,244      10,768
        Stock-based
         compensation              1,555       1,715       3,266       3,105
        Future income tax
         expense relating
         to origination
         and reversal of
         temporary
         differences               2,780       4,011       6,053       6,480
        Future income tax
         recovery resulting
         from income tax
         rate changes                  -     (28,259)          -     (28,259)
        Imputed interest on
         other non-current
         liabilities                 660         755       1,319       1,031
        Amortization of
         deferred financing
         costs                       171         177         343         232
                               ----------------------------------------------

      Cash flow from
       continuing
       operations(1)              40,802      41,585      95,534      88,068

      Net change in non-cash
       operating items            21,113     (11,780)      5,828     (40,307)
                               ----------------------------------------------

      Cash flow from
       continuing operating
       activities                 61,915      29,805     101,362      47,761
                               ----------------------------------------------

    DISCONTINUED OPERATIONS         (430)        (92)     (1,375)       (203)
                               ----------------------------------------------

    INVESTING ACTIVITIES
      Short-term investments -
       cashed                          -           -       9,962      51,128
      Additions to property,
       plant and equipment       (10,616)     (5,140)    (21,512)    (10,197)
      Business pre-operating
       costs                      (2,447)       (748)     (6,471)     (1,052)
      Business acquisition,
       net of cash acquired            -         331      (2,787)   (904,116)
                               ----------------------------------------------
                                 (13,063)     (5,557)    (20,808)   (864,237)
                               ----------------------------------------------

    FINANCING ACTIVITIES
      Deferred financing
       costs                           -        (162)          -      (2,835)
      Increase in long-term
       debt                            -           -           -     825,000
      Repayment of long-term
       debt                      (10,000)          -     (20,000)          -
      Shares repurchased               -     (16,637)          -     (16,885)
      Stock options exercised         85         977         165       1,695
      Dividends                  (14,030)    (14,389)    (14,034)    (14,393)
                               ----------------------------------------------
                                 (23,945)    (30,211)    (33,869)    792,582
                               ----------------------------------------------

    Net change in cash and
     cash equivalents             24,477      (6,055)     45,310     (24,097)
    Cash and cash equivalents
     (bank overdraft)
      - beginning of period       17,189       3,195      (3,644)     21,237
                               ----------------------------------------------
    Cash and cash equivalents
     (bank overdraft)
      - end of period          $  41,666   $  (2,860)  $  41,666   $  (2,860)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (1) See Appendix 1


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

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

                                                   February 28,    August 31,
                                                          2009          2008
                                                   --------------------------
                                                    (unaudited)

    ASSETS

    Current
      Cash and cash equivalents                    $    41,666   $         -
      Short-term investments                                 -         9,962
      Accounts receivable                              140,644       155,841
      Income taxes receivable                              584           919
      Program and film rights                           81,058        79,305
      Prepaid expenses and other current assets         24,412        28,954
                                                   --------------------------
                                                       288,364       274,981

    Program and film rights                             76,506        69,502
    Other non-current assets                            55,453        47,751
    Property, plant and equipment                      140,830       133,484
    Broadcast licences                               1,807,496     1,807,496
    Goodwill                                           356,945       356,945
    Future income tax assets                            30,106        26,448
                                                   --------------------------

                                                   $ 2,755,700   $ 2,716,607
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    LIABILITIES

    Current
      Bank overdraft                               $         -   $     3,644
      Accounts payable and accrued liabilities         107,235       129,906
      Program and film rights payable                   72,843        64,060
      Future income tax liabilities                      1,590         5,951
                                                   --------------------------
                                                       181,668       203,561
                                                   --------------------------

    Long-term debt                                     792,417       812,074
                                                   --------------------------
    Future income tax liabilities                      265,538       254,912
                                                   --------------------------
    Other non-current liabilities                       85,686        78,445
                                                   --------------------------
    Derivative financial instruments                    30,695        18,374
                                                   --------------------------
    Liabilities of discontinued operations               1,373         2,748
                                                   --------------------------

    SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY

    Capital stock                                      751,534       748,121
                                                   --------------------------
    Contributed surplus                                 14,427        14,409
                                                   --------------------------
    Retained earnings                                  654,463       597,188
    Accumulated other comprehensive income             (22,101)      (13,225)
                                                   --------------------------
                                                       632,362       583,963
                                                   --------------------------
                                                     1,398,323     1,346,493
                                                   --------------------------

                                                   $ 2,755,700   $ 2,716,607
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Business Segments
    for the periods ended February 28, 2009 and February 29, 2008
    (in thousands)
    (unaudited)

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

                                       3 months                6 months
                               ----------------------  ----------------------
                                    2009        2008        2009        2008
                               ----------------------------------------------

    REVENUES

    Television                 $ 121,778   $ 118,727   $ 255,217   $ 248,226
    Radio                         75,334      73,990     165,192     122,142
    Outdoor Advertising           12,166      13,133      33,352      33,186
                               ----------------------------------------------

                               $ 209,278   $ 205,850   $ 453,761   $ 403,554
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    EBITDA(1)

    Television                 $  43,158   $  41,338   $  90,847   $  88,796
    Radio                         23,454      23,898      54,339      40,956
    Outdoor Advertising            1,495       1,953       9,311       9,284
    Corporate Costs               (6,193)     (6,126)    (13,118)    (12,522)
                               ----------------------------------------------

                               $  61,914   $  61,063   $ 141,379   $ 126,514
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

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


    ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
    Appendix 1
    Supplementary Measures
    for the periods ended February 28, 2009 and February 29, 2008
    (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 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. 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 unaudited
interim consolidated statements of earnings for the periods ended February 28,
2009 and February 29, 2008 to EBITDA:

    
                                       3 months                6 months
                               ----------------------------------------------
    (in thousands of $)             2009        2008        2009        2008
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Earnings from continuing
     operations before income
     taxes                        42,988      43,452     105,380     100,637
    Depreciation and
     amortization                  6,689       5,981      13,244      10,768
    Interest expense, net          9,546      11,630      20,064      15,109
    Restructuring charges          2,691           -       2,691           -
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    EBITDA                        61,914      61,063     141,379     126,514
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


    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 recovery
or expense resulting from income tax rate changes over which the Company has
no control.
    The following tables reconcile GAAP measures disclosed in the unaudited
interim consolidated statements of earnings for the periods ended February 28,
2009 and February 29, 2008 to net earnings and earnings per share from
continuing operations, before the impact of future income tax rate changes.


                                       3 months                6 months
                               ----------------------------------------------
    (in thousands of $)             2009        2008        2009        2008
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Net earnings from
     continuing operations        28,947      57,205      71,309      94,711
    Future income tax recovery
     resulting from income
     tax rate changes                  -     (28,259)          -     (28,259)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Net earnings from
     continuing operations
     before the impact of
     future income tax rate
     changes                      28,947      28,946      71,309      66,452
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                       3 months                6 months
                               ----------------------------------------------
    (in dollars)                    2009        2008        2009        2008
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basic earnings per share
     from continuing
     operations                     0.52        1.00        1.27        1.70
    Future income tax recovery
     resulting from income tax
     rate changes                      -       (0.49)          -       (0.51)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Basic earnings per share
     from continuing operations
     before the impact of
     future income tax rate
     changes                        0.52        0.51        1.27        1.19
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


    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 operating items.
    The following table reconciles GAAP measures disclosed in the unaudited
interim consolidated statements of cash flows for the periods ended February
28, 2009 and February 29, 2008 to cash flow from continuing operations:


                                       3 months                6 months
                               ----------------------------------------------
    (in thousands of $)             2009        2008        2009        2008
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Cash flow from continuing
     operating activities         61,915      29,805     101,362      47,761
    Net change in non-cash
     operating items             (21,113)     11,780      (5,828)     40,307
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cash flow from continuing
     operations                   40,802      41,585      95,534      88,068
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    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: Medias: Alain Bergeron, Vice-President, Brand
Management and Corporate Communications, Astral Media Inc., (514) 939-5000;
Analysts: Robert Fortier, Vice-President, Finance, Astral Media Inc., (514)
939-5000

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