Astral and Corus raise Q3 earnings, despite revenue falls

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Despite falling revenue amid a weak advertising market, Canadian pay and specialty TV and radio broadcasters Astral Media and Corus Entertainment on Thursday posted higher third quarter earnings.

Montreal-based Astral, which is poised to be taken over by BCE saw earnings rise 3% to $51.2 million during the three months to May 31, even as overall revenue dropped 1% to $265.5 million.

And Toronto-based Corus saw Q3 earnings to May 31 climb 7% to $43.2 million, while combined revenue fell 4% to $204 million.

“Despite tough year‐over‐year comparables, we delivered a solid performance in the quarter, growing net income and earnings per share, maintaining our exceptional margins through rigorous cost controls and continuing to generate impressive free cash flow,” John Cassaday, president and CEO of Corus, said in a statement Thursday.

Advertising revenue at Corus was down to $97 million, against a year-earlier $104.4 million, while key subscriber fees, which help broadcasters weather downturns, was down to $74.2 million, compared to $76.1 million in 2011.

Corus faced soft advertising demand for its kids TV channels, which was offset by “continued strong performance” of its female-skewing channels like W.

Astral Media CEO Ian Greenberg also pointed to a “challenging advertising market,” and his company’s response, to explain his latest financial results.

“Our relentless focus on maintaining our operational margins, commitment towards new product development and innovation, and optimal treasury management practices, enabled us to deliver another strong quarter of earnings growth,” he said in his own statement Thursday.

Astral’s TV revenue was down 2% to $151.4 million during the latest quarter, while radio revenue was down slightly to $89.3 million, against a year-earlier $90.1 million.

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