CanWest revenues rise as ad markets improve, profits lower

1/22/2003

Winnipeg, - CanWest Global Communications Corp. generated higher revenues but lower net profits in the company's fiscal first quarter because of a big one-time gain that inflated earnings last year.

Canada's biggest newspaper publisher and second-largest private broadcaster reported Tuesday it earned net profits of $68.4 million or 36 cents a share for the first quarter ended Nov. 30. That compared with a year-earlier profit of $108.1 million, or 60 cents a share. However, last year's results included a $63 million gain on the sale of its Vancouver CKVU TV station.

Excluding the gain, profits a year ago would have totalled $45 million or 26 cents a share, said CanWest (TSX:CGS.A).

Revenues for the quarter totalled $740 million, up from $727.8 million as advertising markets improved at many of its businesses.

``I am encouraged by the strength of the recovery in advertising markets seen first in our international broadcasting assets and that is now increasingly evident in our Canadian television and newspaper operations,'' CanWest president Leonard Asper said in a release.

``Barring unforeseen events, we anticipate continued positive momentum as the year progresses. The company continues to make gains in capturing operating efficiencies, while achieving significant revenue gains from the sale of multi-media advertising packages at both local and national levels.''

Asper said the company's main priorities this year are to speed up the paydown of its multibillion-dollar debt, maintain efficiencies and improve profits.

CanWest owns the Southam chain of big city newspapers, and the Global television network. The company also has broadcasting assets in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and other media businesses.

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