Thursday, 10 January 2013

Astral reports strong first quarter results for Fiscal 2013


Astral reports strong first quarter results for Fiscal 2013
January 10, 2013

• 7% increase in net earnings1
• 5% increase in diluted EPS1
• 4% increase in EBITDA2

January 10, 2013 - Astral Media Inc.today reported its financial results for the first quarter ended November 30, 2012, which saw continued growth in net earnings1, EPS1, EBITDA2, revenues and cash flow from operations2.

In the first quarter, consolidated net earnings1 rose 7% to $59.6 million from $55.8 million for the same period last year, while diluted earnings per share1 increased by 5% to $1.05 from $1.00 last year. EBITDA2 grew 4% to $93.7 million from $90.4 million last year, while consolidated revenues totalled $274.5 million, an increase of 1% over the $271.1 million recorded last year for the same period. Cash flow from operations at $69.2 million is slightly above last year's figure of $69.0 million.

"I am very pleased with our Company's consolidated and segmented performance in the first quarter of Fiscal 2013, marking the single largest quarter in the Company's history" said Ian Greenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our relentless focus on delivering better value to advertisers and consumers combined with the discipline that defines Astral's decision-making approach provide us with the optimal strategy to reach our objectives and continue to deliver balanced growth across our diversified asset portfolio."

BELL-ASTRAL TRANSACTION3
On March 16, 2012, the Company announced that it entered into a definitive agreement with BCE Inc. ("Bell") for the sale of its business through the acquisition of all of its issued and outstanding shares. Following the October 18, 2012 decision of the CRTC to deny Bell's application to acquire the control of the Company, the Company and Bell announced on November 19, 2012 that they have amended the arrangement agreement signed on March 16, 2012 and submitted a new proposal to the CRTC for approval of Bell's acquisition of the Company.

As a result of the amendments made to the terms of the arrangement agreement: (i) the outside date for the closing of the transaction has been extended to June 1, 2013, with each of the Company and Bell having a further right to postpone it to July 31, 2013, (ii) Bell's regulatory covenants have been modified, and (iii) the Company's Board of directors has declared a cash dividend of $0.50 per share on its class A non-voting shares and class B subordinate voting shares, payable on February 1, 2013 to shareholders of record at the close of business on January 15, 2013. The consideration payable to the Company's shareholders remains unchanged under the amended arrangement agreement. The Bell-Astral Transaction is subject to closing conditions, including regulatory approvals from the CRTC and the Competition Bureau. There can be no assurance that the Bell-Astral Transaction will occur, or that it will occur on the terms and conditions currently contemplated.

SEGMENTED FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

Television
• Revenue growth of 2%;
• EBITDA2 growth of 5%;
• EBITDA margin2 of 39.3%, up from 38.2% for the same period last year.

Radio
• Revenue growth of 1%;
• EBITDA2 growth of 1%;
• EBITDA margin2 of 31.3%, consistent with last year;
• Prior to the beginning of the first quarter, rebranding of two stations in London and Winnipeg to the prestigious Virgin Radio brand, bringing the total of Astral Virgin Radio stations to seven;
• On November 23, inauguration of Canada's largest private radio broadcasting centre with five Astral French-and English-language stations under the same roof in MontrĂ©al.

Out-of-Home
• Revenue growth of 2%;
• EBITDA2 growth of 1%;
• EBITDA margin2 of 40.0%, consistent with last year;
• In September, launch of a brand new network of 30 urban Digital Columns in the heart of downtown MontrĂ©al;
• Announcement of the addition of 6 new Digital faces by February 2013 on Toronto's Gardiner Expressway, bringing Astral's popular national Digital Network to 49 faces.


Corporate
• Over the course of the first quarter, the Company repaid $7.0 million of its long-term debt, bringing its Net Debt and leverage ratio just below $356.0 million and 1.1 respectively;
• Astral announced in November a cash dividend of $0.50 per share on its class A non-voting shares and class B subordinate voting shares, payable on February 1, 2013.

The unaudited interim condensed consolidated financial statements and related notes and Management's Discussion and Analysis are available on the Company's website: astral.com.


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