Astral delivers record earnings for fourth quarter


Montreal, - Astral Media Inc. reported a record net profit from continuing operations Wednesday as the company generated higher revenues from its media and advertising divisions.

The radio and TV broadcaster said Wednesday it earned $57.1 million or $1.16 a share for the year ended Aug. 31. That's almost double the $29.7 million or 65 cents a share earned in the previous year.

Revenues for fiscal 2002 grew 16 per cent to $400 million. Excluding the financial impact of a non-recurring net gain of $7.4 million for an asset sale, and changes in accounting policies, net earnings in fiscal 2002 increased 40 per cent to $49.7 million from $35.4 million in the prior year.

For the fourth quarter alone, net profits from continuing operations were $10.5 million, including a non-recurring $5.6 million after-tax write-down of a broadcast licence. In last year's fourth quarter Astral earned $6.9 million. Revenues increased eight per cent to $102.3 million.

Astral Media is active in specialty, pay and pay-per-view television, radio broadcasting and outdoor advertising. Earlier this year, the Montreal company won regulatory approval for a $228 million acquisition of Quebec and Atlantic radio stations from Telemedia Inc., making Astral a dominant player in Quebec's radio industry.

Chief executive Ian Greenberg said all the company's operations contributed to the record profit.

"Our television group once again led the way achieving record subscriber levels and outstanding growth in advertising revenues," he said in a release. "Our radio group weathered a challenging year in preparation for the Telemedia acquisition. Finally, our outdoor advertising group significantly grew their revenues amidst a generally sluggish advertising market."

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