Q1 reports TV ad rebound

Astral's first-quarter report shows higher earnings based on a TV ad rebound. Canwest also reported a Q1 profit, as did Cogeco Cable. Earnings at Shaw, on the other hand, were down.

A TV ad rebound and guaranteed subscriber fees have been good to Astral Media.

On Thursday, the Montreal-based broadcaster posted first-quarter earnings up sharply at $64.6 million, against a profit of $39.6 million in 2008, as it secured an accounting gain of $8.4 million from a change in future tax rates and a reversal of $11.6 million in part II fee accruals.

Total revenues edged up 3% to $250.7 million.

Astral’s TV revenue jumped 6% to $141.2 million on ad revenue up 1% and subscriber fee revenue jumping 8%.

Radio revenues fell 1% to $89.2 million.

‘No matter how you look at it, I think you can say this is a very strong performance for the quarter,’ Astral CEO Ian Greenberg told analysts Thursday.

Elsewhere, rival Canwest Global Communications managed a first quarter profit of $652.5 million, against a loss of $36.9 million last year, after it recorded a $570 million gain from selling its Australian Ten Network Holdings stake in 2009.

Overall revenues at a restructuring Canwest Global were $570.7 million, compared to $634.3 million during the same period of 2008.

The TV division’s operating profit was up 56% to $109 million, even as revenues slipped 5% to $285 million. Canwest Global’s newspaper division, now being shopped by RBC Capital Markets, posted revenues off 14% to $286 million, while its operating profit jumped 5% to $70 million.

Also this week, Cogeco Cable posted a first-quarter profit of $56.7 million, up from a year-earlier $22.9 million, on revenues of $317 million, against $299 million in fiscal 2009.

And rival Shaw Communications saw its first-quarter earnings fall 7% to $114.2 million, against $123.5 million last year, as it recorded $82 million in one-time debt servicing costs.

Overall revenues at Calgary-based Shaw were up 11% to $905.9 million.

From Playback Daily