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Press release from Marketwire

GVIC Communications Corp. Reports Year End Results

Thursday, March 27, 2014

GVIC Communications Corp. Reports Year End Results

20:07 EDT Thursday, March 27, 2014

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 27, 2014) - GVIC Communications Corp. (TSX:GCT) ("GVIC" or the "Company") reported cash flow, earnings and revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013.

Summary Results

Results are reported below on an adjusted basis to include the Company's share of the results of its joint ventures. Management bases its operating decisions and performance evaluation utilizing these results. Refer to Impact of Joint Venture Accounting on page 5 for discussion of the accounting change and results in accordance with IFRS.

(thousands of dollars)
except share and per share amounts 2013 (5) 2012 (5) 2011 (5)
Revenue $ 328,898 $ 330,016 $ 267,394
EBITDA (1) $ 43,714 $ 51,010 $ 49,744
EBITDA margin (1) 13.3 % 15.5 % 18.6 %
EBITDA per share (1) $ 0.146 $ 0.170 $ 0.166
Net income attributable to common shareholders before non-recurring items (1)(2)(3) $ 17,295 $ 17,551 $ 25,380
Net income attributable to common shareholders per share before non-recurring items (1)(2)(3) $ 0.058 $ 0.058 $ 0.084
Cash flow from operations (1)(2)(3) $ 43,156 $ 50,814 $ 43,048
Cash flow from operations per share (1)(2)(3) $ 0.144 $ 0.169 $ 0.143
Debt net of cash outstanding before deferred financing charges $ 126,771 $ 144,523 $ 152,819
Dividends paid (4) $ 5,408 $ 5,477 $ 2,704
Dividends paid per share (4) $ 0.018 $ 0.018 $ 0.009
Weighted average shares outstanding, net 300,425,031 300,425,031 300,425,031

Notes:

  1. Refer to "Non-IFRS Measures" section of the financial statements.
  2. 2013 excludes $5.7 million of restructuring expense and $1.3 million of transaction and transition costs,
  3. $79.0 million of impairment expense, $0.2 million gain on acquistion, and $0.4 million net gain on disposal of assets.
  4. For non-recurring items excluded in the prior period, refer to previously reported financial statements.
  5. Dividends in 2013 total $0.024 per share paid quarterly, dividends in 2012 total $0.018 per share paid semi-annually, quarterly dividends totalling $1.8 million or $0.006 per share were declared in November 2013 and paid on January 3, 2014.
  6. These results are presented on an adjusted basis to include the Company's share of the results of its joint ventures, as management bases its operating decisions and performance evaluation on the adjusted results.

Key Financial Highlights (1)

  • Same-store consolidated revenue was up 1.2% for the quarter ending December 31, 2013 and consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was up 16.1% for the same quarter compared to last year on an adjusted basis;

  • For the year ended December 31, 2013, GVIC's adjusted consolidated revenues decreased 0.3% or $1.1 million to $328.9 million from $330.0 million the prior year;

  • For the year ended December 31, 2013, adjusted consolidated EBITDA declined 14.3% to $43.7 million from $51.0 million the prior year. EBITDA was affected by $2.0 million in one-time accounting and other expense items, as well as $1.9 million of operating cost investments made in agriculture digital and data, the launch of the Company's environmental risk information business into the U.S. and REW.ca real estate information development initiatives. Excluding these amounts, consolidated adjusted EBITDA was $47.7 million, off 6.6% from the prior year;

  • Adjusted cash flow from operations (before changes in non-cash operating accounts and non-recurring items) decreased 15.1% from the prior year to $43.2 million;

  • Adjusted net income attributable to common shareholders before non-recurring items was $17.3 million, compared to $17.6 million the prior year;

  • Adjusted EBITDA per share decreased 14.3% to $0.146 per share from $0.170 per share for the year compared to the prior year and net income attributable to common shareholders before non-recurring items per share was consistent with the prior year at $0.058 per share;

  • Adjusted cash flow from operations (before changes in non-cash operating accounts and non-recurring items) decreased to $0.144 per share from $0.169 per share for last year;

  • The Company (excluding its joint ventures) reduced debt by $23.3 million during the year, of which $12.0 million was generated by the sale of real estate assets; and

  • As a result of the continued structural changes in the print media industry resulting from digital competition and weaker economic conditions, and reduced valuations for print newspaper assets, the Company recorded an impairment of its goodwill, intangible assets and investment in associate of $79.0 million, primarily in its community media assets.

(1) These results are presented on a proportionate consolidation basis, and include the Company's shares of revenue, expenses, assets and liabilities from its joint venture operations, which reflects the basis on which management makes its operating decisions and performance evaluation. Refer to the Impact of Joint Venture Accounting, below, for impact of proportionate consolidation accounting and the Company's results in accordance with IFRS.

Review of Operations and Value Enhancement Initiatives

GVIC Communications Corp. completed 2013 with a stronger fourth quarter, in which same-store consolidated revenue increased 1.2% and consolidated EBITDA was up 16.1% for the quarter compared to last year on an adjusted basis(1).

Notwithstanding a $79.0 million accounting charge taken for impairment of goodwill, intangible assets and investment in associate relating primarily to a reduction in the carrying value of community media assets, which resulted in a significant reduction in net income for 2013, the fourth quarter results were very encouraging and represented a significant improvement in business and operating results compared to the softness experienced earlier in the year. Significant reduction in debt and improved strength in operating position was also achieved during the year through principal repayments made from operating cash flows and the sale of real estate and non-core assets. Management intends to continue to use free cash flow to further reduce debt and pay dividends to shareholders, amongst other things.

Improved operating performance resulted from both new revenue initiatives that generated higher sales, complemented by significant cost reductions implemented throughout the year. Through this process, the Company executed against a comprehensive strategy to Evolve, Enrich and Extend its information products and services. In 2013, new digital and data tools and services were launched, which contributed to higher sales and profitability within key business information verticals.

For the year ended December 31, 2013, consolidated revenue decreased 0.3% to $328.9 million and consolidated EBITDA declined 14.3% to $43.7 million compared to last year on an adjusted basis(1), primarily due to weaker community media revenues, which were impacted by overall economic conditions in 2013 and digital competition. These were offset by stronger business information revenues. The variance in EBITDA was also the result of approximately $2.0 million of one-time non-cash expenses and changes in deferred revenue accounting, as well as $1.9 million of operating cost development investments made in agriculture digital and data, the launch of the Company's environmental risk information business into the U.S. and REW.ca real estate information development initiatives. New revenues began to be realized from these investments in the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.

Excluding the $3.9 million of one-time non-cash expenses, accounting changes and development investments, adjusted(1) consolidated EBITDA for the year ending 2013 was $47.7 million, which was only 6.6% off of 2012 consolidated EBITDA of $51.0 million, despite the economic and other challenges faced in 2013.

Business Information

Many of the Company's business information operations (which include business and professional and trade information) continue to grow and provide attractive opportunities for future growth. In particular, the energy, agriculture, environmental services, financial services, manufacturing and construction verticals performed well. Management is investing in these verticals to develop rich information tools and services, including new environmental risk, weather and farm management and upstream oil and gas platforms. Management is also reviewing the spectrum of verticals in which it operates with a view of focusing resources on those verticals with high growth and strong positions.

Business information operations now represent more than half of GVIC's EBITDA. Further, 45% of the business information EBITDA comes from rich information digital data products designed for scalable growth and higher profitability. Many product lines offer resiliency in challenging economic times as they provide critical insight and analysis to GVIC's customers.

GVIC's business information portfolio contains many brands that have decades of service in their respective sectors. The intrinsic equity associated with these brands is a key competitive advantage as the Company pursues its Evolve, Enrich and Extend strategy. Consistent with this strategy, management is focused on initiatives designed to offer customers increasingly richer value propositions. These include multi-platform solutions designed to integrate more seamlessly with customer decision-making processes, thus ensuring heightened levels of decision dependency. Digital revenues now represent more than one quarter of GVIC's business information revenues.

In 2013, a variety of initiatives highlighted how sharper focus on sector and customer needs is facilitating successful development and growth. They include:

  • Environmental Risk Information Service ("ERIS") expanded its business into the United States;

  • WeatherFarm was re-engineered and re-launched to integrate new tools and data sets that augment the meteorological information and analytics of the Company's new Weather INnovations Consulting LP business, through which real-time weather data and intelligence is supplied to Canadian farmers and agribusiness companies;

  • FarmMedia (the new DBA for GVIC's agricultural group) contracted with the Alberta Wheat Commission to provide syndicated market information to commission members through its website;

  • Canada's Outdoor Farm Show ("COFS") achieved record results with its 20th Anniversary exposition. Nearly 43,000 delegates attended the show, which included more than 750 exhibitors.

Community Media

GVIC's community media operations offer broad coverage across Western Canada in local markets, and continue to offer a strong value proposition through local information and marketing channel utility.

As mentioned, generally weak economic conditions as well as structural changes in the community newspaper industry adversely affected advertising revenues during 2013. This impact has been particularly true of community operations in urban markets, such as the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where both print and digital competition is stronger. Many of the Company's smaller rural community media markets - largely spread across the Prairies - have enjoyed more steady performance due to their strong local positions and local advertising revenues.

The media industry, as a whole, continues to pursue new "business models" intended to manage the future value of content against a backdrop of maturing traditional advertising and greater digital opportunities. GVIC is well advanced in this respect. Significant efforts are being made to develop new community media related special content and advertising focused products that are delivered in multiple platform formats.

While print advertising revenues were weaker in 2013, digital revenues continued to grow in GVIC's community media operations. Significant progress was made launching new digital offerings, with a focus on products that can be quickly monetized. Management is focused on bottom line growth from digital investments, rather than pursuing larger digital revenues without a positive contribution - a trend among many digital media companies. GVIC's community media digital revenues generated strong year-over-year growth in 2013, with an EBITDA margin that exceeded the group's print margin.

While economic and market challenges have affected the community media operations, management believes that these businesses remain strong and will continue to generate solid cash flow given the nature of the markets in which GVIC operates - particularly within the more robust micro-economies of Western Canada. This cash flow can be used to fund growth through both internal investment and acquisition of digital business information and community media assets, as well as debt repayments.

Financial Position

In 2013, the Company pursued initiatives to improve its financial position including:

  • Cost reduction initiatives. Given the softness experienced in the Company's community media operations, a variety of significant cost reduction measures have and are being implemented to reduce overall operating costs. The initiatives are targeted to reduce costs by more than $7.0 million on an annualized basis. Savings from these initiatives began to be realized in both the third and fourth quarters of 2013. In implementing these initiatives, management has been diligent to maintain the operating integrity of the businesses.

  • Sale of real estate assets. The Company realized cash proceeds of $12.0 million on the sale of real estate assets in 2013.

  • Subsequent to year end, the Company entered into an agreement to sell its real estate property in Kamloops for $4.8 million. The sale is expected to close in the summer of 2014.

  • Other property dispositions are currently being negotiated. Given current capitalization and interest rates, monetizing real estate value to reduce leverage has been deemed prudent. The real estate sales have been targeted to a) cover any required deposit relating to the previously reported notice of possible reassessment from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the 2008-2011 income tax years, should a deposit become payable and b) result in a net reduction of leverage from current levels. Any potential CRA reassessment timing is not currently determinable.

  • Sale of non-core assets. During the fourth quarter of 2013, the Company sold two money-losing community newspapers and acquired several more profitable community media assets that provide a better strategic fit.

On an adjusted basis to include the Company's share of its joint ventures, GVIC's consolidated debt net of cash outstanding before deferred financing charges and other expenses was reduced to 2.90x trailing 12 months EBITDA as at December 31, 2013.

The Company (excluding its joint ventures) reduced debt by $23.3 million during the year (as stated above, $12.0 million was generated from the sale of real estate assets). GVIC's consolidated debt net of cash outstanding before deferred financing charges was $113.9 million as at December 31, 2013.

Capital expenditures were $11.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 compared to $7.1 million in the prior year. $10.1 million of these capital expenditures were investment capital expenditures, the majority of which relate to building, building improvements, new printing equipment, new office space and software. These investment capital expenditures are expected to result in attractive direct revenues and cash flow improvements, including lower operating costs and payback consistent with GVIC's targeted return on investment. Sustaining capital expenditures for the year were $1.6 million.

Management expects the level of investment capital expenditure in 2014 to be significantly reduced, with primarily only ongoing sustaining capital investments being required.

As a result of the continued structural changes in the print media industry resulting from digital competition and weaker economic conditions, and reduced valuations for print newspaper assets, the Company recorded an impairment of its goodwill, intangible assets and investment in associate of $79.0 million, primarily in its community media assets.

Declaration of Dividend

The Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.006 per share to shareholders of record on March 25, 2014 and payable on April 7, 2014. The dividend is consistent with the Company's dividend policy of paying $0.024 per share per annum payable quarterly.

Impact of Joint Venture Accounting

As a result of a change in IFRS accounting policies effective January 1, 2013, the Company is now required to account for its joint venture operations under the equity method. Previously, the Company's joint venture operations were accounted for using proportionate consolidation. As a result of the change in accounting, the Company no longer includes the revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities of its share of these operations in the Company's results. The Company now carries its interest as a net investment on its balance sheet and includes the net results from these operations in its statement of operations.

Despite this accounting change, management believes that including its share of revenues and expenses in the Company's results (consistent with its prior accounting treatment) provides an important basis for assessing the overall operations of the Company. The table below adjusts the Company's reported results under IFRS to include the revenues and expenses of its joint venture operations, consistent with its historical presentation. Management continues to base its operating decisions and performance evaluation on the adjusted results.

(thousands of dollars) Year ended December 31, 2013 (4) Year ended December 31, 2012 (4)
except share and per share amounts Per IFRS Adjustment (4) Adjusted Per IFRS Adjustment (4) Adjusted
Revenue $ 295,623 $ 33,275 $ 328,898 $ 297,111 $ 32,905 $ 330,016
EBITDA (1) $ 33,467 $ 10,247 $ 43,714 $ 40,046 $ 10,964 $ 51,010
EBITDA margin (1) 11.3 % 13.3 % 13.5 % 15.5 %
EBITDA per share (1) $ 0.111 $ 0.146 $ 0.133 $ 0.170
Net income attributable to common shareholders before non-recurring items (1)(2)(3) $ 15,706 $ 1,589 $ 17,295 $ 16,395 $ 1,156 $ 17,551
Net income attributable to common shareholders per share (1)(2)(3) before non-recurring items (1)(2)(3) $ 0.052 $ 0.058 $ 0.055 $ 0.058
Cash flow from operations (1)(2)(3) $ 34,495 $ 8,661 $ 43,156 $ 40,504 $ 10,310 $ 50,814
Cash flow from operations per share (1)(2)(3) $ 0.115 $ 0.144 $ 0.135 $ 0.169
Debt net of cash outstanding before deferred financing charges $ 113,893 $ 12,878 $ 126,771 $ 137,167 $ 7,356 $ 144,523
Weighted average shares outstanding, net 300,425,031 300,425,031 300,425,031 300,425,031

Notes:

  1. Refer to "Non-IFRS Measures" section for calculation of non-IFRS measures used in this table.
  2. 2013 excludes $5.7 million of restructuring expense, $1.3 million of transaction and transition costs, $79.0 million of impairment expense, $0.2 million gain on acquistion and $0.4 million net gain on disposal of assets.
  3. For non-recurring items excluded in the prior period, refer to previously reported financial statements.
  4. Adjustment to include the Company's share of revenues, expenses and cash flows from its joint venture operations consistent with the Company's treatment on a historical basis and prior to implementing the new accounting standards.

Under IFRS, revenues for the year ended December 31, 2013 decreased 0.5% to $295.6 million from $297.1 million for the year prior. Cash flow from operations (before changes in non-cash operating accounts and non-recurring items) decreased 14.8% to $34.5 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) decreased 16.4% to $33.5 million compared to the year prior. Net income attributable to common shareholders (before non-recurring items) decreased by $0.7 million to $15.7 million.

Cash flow from operations (before changes in non-cash operating accounts and non-recurring items) for the year ended December 31, 2013 decreased to $0.115 per share from $0.135 per share for the same period prior year. EBITDA decreased to $0.111 per share from $0.133 per share and net income attributable to common shareholders (before non-recurring items) per share decreased to $0.052 per share from $0.055 per share.

Outlook

The Company continues to grow its business information operations through its Evolve, Enrich and Extend strategy, which focuses on providing richer content, data and information, related analytics and business and market intelligence in order to achieve greater customer utility and decision dependence. The strategy is also being used to improve the community media operations. Management expects growth will continue in GVIC's business information operations, as well as community media markets where local market conditions are stronger and digital competition is relatively weaker.

While media maturation factors are having an impact as described, the softer economy is playing a significant role in dampening revenues, and economic strengthening should result in improved revenues at the margin. Management will continue to closely monitor economic conditions in various markets and verticals to ensure long-term viability.

Management will focus in the short-term on a balance of paying down debt, reducing costs and improving profitability, enhancing existing operations, targeting select acquisition opportunities and returning value to shareholders through growth in cash flow per share and payment of dividends.

As indicated, significant focus and related investment will continue to be made to enhance GVIC's business information verticals, through both organic development and acquisition. These acquisitions will be targeted to expand markets that GVIC covers, expand the breadth of information products and marketing solutions, and expand GVIC's digital media staff, technology and related resources.

Once leverage is reduced to more moderate levels, management will seek an ongoing balance of maintaining debt at those levels and delivering increased value to shareholders through both operations and acquisitions, as well as dividends.

Shares in GVIC are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol GCT.

About the Company: GVIC Communications Corp. is an information communications company focused on the provision of primary and essential information and related services through print, electronic and online media. GVIC is pursuing this strategy through its core businesses: the community media, trade information and business and professional information markets.

Financial Measures

To supplement the consolidated financial statements presented in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), GVIC uses certain non-IFRS measures that may be different from the performance measures used by other companies. These non-IFRS measures include cash flow from operations (before changes in non-cash operating accounts and non-recurring items), net income attributable to common shareholders before non-recurring items and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), which are not alternatives to IFRS financial measures. Management focuses on operating cash flow per share as the primary measure of operating profitability, free cash flow and value. EBITDA per share is also an important measure as the Company has low ongoing capital expenditures and depreciation and amortization largely relates to acquisition goodwill and copyrights and does not represent a corresponding sustaining capital expense. These non-IFRS measures do not have any standardized meanings prescribed by IFRS and accordingly they are unlikely to be comparable to similar measures presented by other issuers.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements that relate to, among other things, the Company's objectives, goals, strategies, intentions, plans, beliefs, expectations and estimates. These forward-looking statements include, among other things, statements relating to the Company's expectations regarding revenues, expenses, cash flows and future profitability and the effect of GVIC's strategic initiatives, including its expectations to grow its business information operations, to implement cost reduction measures, to sell real estate properties and utilize proceeds of such sales to cover required CRA re-assessment deposits, to produce products and services that provide growth opportunities, to organic development and new business acquisitions, to improve profitability, to grow cash flow per share, to pay dividends and to reduce debt levels and as to its expectations as to the level of investment in capital expenditures. These forward-looking statements are based on certain assumptions, including continued economic growth and recovery and the realization of cost savings in a timely manner and in the expected amounts, and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, and undue reliance should not be placed on such statements.

Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these expectations include failure to implement or achieve the intended results from GVIC's strategic initiatives, the failure to implement or realize cost savings in a timely manner or in the expected amounts, the failure to negotiate or complete the sale of real estate assets, the failure to identify, negotiate and complete the acquisition of new businesses, the failure to develop new products, and the other risk factors listed in the Company's Annual Information Form under the heading "Risk Factors" and in the Company's MD&A under the heading "Business Environment and Risks", many of which are out of the Company's control. These other risk factors include, but are not limited to, the ability of the Company to sell advertising and subscriptions related to its publications, foreign exchange rate fluctuations, the seasonal and cyclical nature of the agricultural industry, discontinuation of the Department of Canadian Heritage's Canada Periodical Fund's Aid to Publishers, general market conditions in both Canada and the United States, changes in the prices of purchased supplies including newsprint, the effects of competition in the Company's markets, dependence on key personnel, integration of newly acquired businesses, technological changes, tax risk and financing and debt service risk.

The forward-looking statements made in this news release relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made. Except as required by law, the Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Contact Information:
GVIC Communications Corp.
Mr. Orest Smysnuik
Chief Financial Officer
604-708-3264

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