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Astral reports strong first quarter results for Fiscal 2013



    --  7% increase in net earnings(1)
    --  5% increase in diluted EPS(1)
    --  4% increase in EBITDA(2)

MONTREAL, Jan. 10, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Astral Media Inc. (TSX: ACM.A ACM.B) 
today reported its financial results for the first quarter ended November 30, 
2012, which saw continued growth in net earnings(1), EPS(1), EBITDA(2), 
revenues and cash flow from operations(2).

In the first quarter, consolidated net earnings(1) rose 7% to $59.6 million 
from $55.8 million for the same period last year, while diluted earnings per 
share(1) increased by 5% to $1.05 from $1.00 last year. EBITDA(2) 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 TRANSACTION(3)
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%;
    --  EBITDA(2) growth of 5%;
    --  EBITDA margin(2) of 39.3%, up from 38.2% for the same period
        last year.

Radio
    --  Revenue growth of 1%;
    --  EBITDA(2 )growth of 1%;
    --  EBITDA margin(2) 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 Montréal.

Out-of-Home
    --  Revenue growth of 2%;
    --  EBITDA(2) growth of 1%;
    --  EBITDA margin(2) 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 Montréal;
    --  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.

There will be a conference call with analysts and media at 10:30 a.m. ET on 
Thursday, January 10, 2013. To access the conference call dial 1-800-731-5319. 
The conference call will also be broadcasted live and archived for a 
three-month period on the Astral website at astral.com.

Astral is one of Canada's largest media companies. It operates several of the 
country's most popular pay and specialty television, radio, out-of-home 
advertising and digital media properties. Astral plays a central role in 
community life across the country by offering diverse, rich and vibrant 
programming that meets the tastes and needs of consumers and advertisers. To 
learn more about Astral, visit astral.com.

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. Excluding Bell-Astral transaction costs. See "Additional IFRS and
Non-IFRS Measures" in Appendix 1.
2. For more details, see "Additional IFRS and Non-IFRS Measures" in
Appendix 1.
3. For more details, see the "Bell-Astral Transaction" section in the
Management's Discussion and Analysis for the periods ended November 30,
2012 and 2011 and the press release issued by the Company on November
19, 2012.

ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
Interim Consolidated Statements of Earnings
for the three months ended 
(in thousands of Canadian dollars except for per-share data)
(unaudited)
                                                           November 30
                                                      2012        2011
                                                                      

Revenues                                         $ 274,465   $ 271,100
                                                                      

Operating expenses                                 180,811     180,699

Depreciation of property, plant and equipment        6,931       7,506

Amortization of other intangible and non-current              
assets                                               2,363       1,962

Financial expense, net                               2,836       3,953

Bell-Astral Transaction costs                          660           -
                                                                      

Earnings before income taxes                        80,864      76,980
                                                                      

Income tax expense                                  21,759      21,224
                                                                      

Net earnings                                     $  59,105   $  55,756
                                                                      

Earnings per share                                                    

  - Basic                                        $    1.06   $    1.01

  - Diluted                                      $    1.04   $    1.00

ASTRAL MEDIA INC.  Interim Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income for the three months ended (in thousands of Canadian dollars) (unaudited)


                                                   
                                                         November 30
                                                       2012        2011
                                                                       

Net earnings                                      $  59,105   $  55,756

Item that is never subsequently reclassified to                        
statements of earnings                                     

  Actuarial loss on employee future benefit                    
  plans, net of income tax recovery of
  $1.8 million and $2.4 million respectively        (4,830)     (6,772)

Item that may be subsequently reclassified to                          
statements of earnings                                     

  Change in fair value of derivatives designated               
  as cash flow hedges, net of
  income tax expense (recovery) of ($0.2 million)
  and $0.1 million respectively                       (663)         110
                                                                       

Other comprehensive loss                            (5,493)     (6,662)

Comprehensive income                              $  53,612   $  49,094

 

ASTRAL MEDIA INC. 
Interim Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
for the three months ended 
(in thousands of Canadian dollars)
(unaudited)
                                                                       
                                                        November 30,
                                                      2012         2011
                                                                       

OPERATING ACTIVITIES                                                   

  Net earnings                                  $   59,105   $   55,756
                                                                       

  Non-cash items:                                                      
    Stock-based compensation costs                   2,098        2,152
    Depreciation and amortization                    9,294        9,468
    Imputed interest, net                              288          259
    Amortization of deferred financing costs           281          205
    Deferred tax expense (recovery)                (1,902)        1,122
                                                                       

  Cash flows from operations                        69,164       68,962
                                                                       

  Net change in non-cash operating items          (44,841)     (45,111)
                                                                       

Cash provided by operating activities               24,323       23,851
                                                                       

INVESTING ACTIVITIES                                                   

  Additions to property, plant and equipment       (9,708)      (5,574)

  Additions to other intangible and non-current      (999)        (952)
  assets

Cash used for investing activities                (10,707)      (6,526)
                                                                       

FINANCING ACTIVITIES                                                   

  Repayment of long-term debt                      (7,000)     (10,000)

  Deferred financing costs                               -      (2,011)

  Stock options exercised                            1,702        3,110

  Shares repurchased                                     -      (7,757)

Cash used for financing activities                 (5,298)     (16,658)

Net change in cash                                   8,318          667

Cash - beginning of period                          20,892       22,653

Cash - end of period                            $   29,210   $   23,320


ASTRAL MEDIA INC.  
Interim Consolidated Balance Sheets as at
(in thousands of Canadian dollars)
(unaudited)
                                                            
                                            November 30,    August 31,
                                                    2012          2012

ASSETS                                                                
                                                                      

Current                                                               

  Cash                                      $     29,210   $    20,892

  Accounts receivable                            193,823       174,384

  Program and film rights                        123,080       114,753

  Prepaid expenses and other current assets       41,861        29,007
                                                 387,974       339,036
                                                                      

Program and film rights                           52,588        51,208

Property, plant and equipment                    209,824       210,035

Broadcast licences                             1,631,307     1,631,307

Goodwill                                         118,489       118,489

Other intangible and non-current assets           63,178        64,750

Non-current financial assets                      15,491        16,084

Deferred tax assets                               40,530        34,582
                                            $  2,519,381   $ 2,465,491
                                                                      

LIABILITIES                                                           
                                                                      

Current                                                               

  Accounts payable and accrued liabilities  $    150,184   $   141,729

  Provisions                                       3,208         5,319

  Income taxes payable                            20,408        15,531

  Program and film rights payable                 74,744        63,619
                                                 248,544       226,198
                                                                      

Long-term debt                                   383,419       390,138

Deferred tax liabilities                         133,422       131,377

Program and film rights payable                    9,877         7,446

Provisions                                         6,305         6,717

Other non-current liabilities                     80,935        76,556

Other non-current financial liabilities            9,351         8,466
                                                 871,853       846,898
                                                                      

SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY                                                  
                                                                      

Capital stock                                    783,133       778,548

Contributed surplus                               19,199        20,445

Retained earnings                                845,729       819,470

Accumulated other comprehensive income                      
(loss)                                             (533)           130
                                                 845,196       819,600
                                               1,647,528     1,618,593
                                            $  2,519,381   $ 2,465,491


ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
Business Segments
for the three months ended November 30,
(in thousands of Canadian dollars)
(unaudited)
                           
                 2012        2011
                                 

REVENUES                         
                                 

Television  $ 155,827   $ 153,552

Radio          88,786      88,291

Out-of-Home    29,852      29,257
                                 
            $ 274,465   $ 271,100
                                 

EBITDA((1))                      
                                 

Television  $  61,251   $  58,608

Radio          27,773      27,591

Out-of-Home    11,935      11,835

Corporate     (7,305)     (7,633)
                                 
            $  93,654   $  90,401
    ((1)) See Appendix 1.

ASTRAL MEDIA INC.
Appendix 1
Additional IFRS and Non-IFRS Measures
for the periods ended November 30, 2012 and 2011
(unaudited)

In addition to discussing earnings measures in accordance with International 
Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"), this press release provides the 
following additional IFRS and non-IFRS measures which are also factors used by 
the Company's management and Board of Directors in monitoring and evaluating 
the performance of the Company and its business segments:

Additional IFRS Measure

Cash flow from operations is defined as cash provided by 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.

Non-IFRS Measures

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 Bell-Astral Transaction costs are also 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. The following table reconciles IFRS measures 
disclosed in the unaudited interim consolidated statements of earnings for the 
periods ended November 30, 2012 and 2011 to EBITDA:
                                              November 30

(in thousands of $)                      2012              2011
                              ("Fiscal 2013")   ("Fiscal 2012")
                                                               

Earnings before income taxes           80,864            76,980

Depreciation and amortization           9,294             9,468

Financial expense, net                  2,836             3,953

Bell-Astral Transaction costs             660                 -

EBITDA                                 93,654            90,401

Net earnings and diluted earnings per share before Bell-Astral Transaction costs. These measures provide an indication of the Company's ability to generate earnings from its ongoing operations, by excluding some items such as Bell-Astral Transaction costs as they are not considered to be in the ordinary course of business.

The following tables reconcile IFRS measures disclosed in the unaudited interim consolidated statements of earnings for the periods ended November 30 2012 and 2011 to net earnings and diluted earnings per share before Bell-Astral Transaction costs:

November 30

(in thousands of $) 2012 2011


                                                                      

Net earnings                                       59,105       55,756

Bell-Astral Transaction costs, net of income taxes    484            -

Net earnings before Bell-Astral Transaction costs  59,589       55,756
                                                    
                                                         November 30

(in dollars)                                         2012         2011
                                                                      

Diluted earnings per share                           1.04         1.00

Bell-Astral Transaction costs, net of income taxes   0.01            -

Diluted earnings per share before Bell-Astral        1.05         1.00
Transaction costs

The above additional IFRS and non-IFRS measures do not have a standardized 
meaning prescribed by IFRS and may not be comparable to similar measures 
presented by other companies. 

 

Media:

Olivier Racette Advisor, Corporate Communications Astral Media Inc. 
514-939-5000

Analysts :

Robert Fortier Vice-President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer Astral 
Media Inc. 514-939-5000 

SOURCE: Astral Media Inc.

To view this news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL: 
http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/January2013/10/c4992.html

CO: Astral Media Inc.
ST: Quebec
NI: ENT TVNEWS RADIO ERN DIV CONF 

-0- Jan/10/2013 12:55 GMT

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