‘Toronto Star’ Parent Swings to Q3 Profit Despite Falling Newspaper Revenue

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Torstar Corp., publisher of The Toronto Star and Harlequin romance books, reported Wednesday that it swung to a modest profit in the third quarter despite a 12.6% drop in revenue at its newspaper and digital publishing unit.

In the quarter, Torstar had net income of C$4 million, or 5 cents per share, compared to a year-ago loss in the third quarter of C$740,000, or 1 cent per share. (C$1 equals 94 US cents.)

Newspaper and digital revenue dropped 12.6% to C$221.2 million in the quarter.

Contributing to a drag on earnings, Torstar said, was the performance of its 20% stake in CTVglobemedia, which is the publisher of The Globe and Mail and the CTV television network. In the third quarter, the stake lost C$13.6 million, more than four time its year-ago loss of $2.8 million.

In a conference call, Torstar interim CEO David Holland said the company had no plans to sell its stake in CTVglobemedia. Torstar bought its five-year stake in the TV and newspaper owner in 2006.

Torstar’s Q3 report came just a day after its flagship Toronto Star announced a “major restructuring” that includes buyouts of jobs and may also involve layoffs.

During the 2009 quarter, Torstar took restructuring and related charges in its newspapers and digital division of C$1.1 million, down from C$3.4 million in the year-ago period. The charges related to efforts to wring costs out of its flagship Star Media group and Metroland Media chain, which publishes dailies and community papers in Ontario.

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