Torstar Corp. says the sale of its stake in CTV Inc. boosted the media company's second-quarter profit to $228.3-million and earnings at its Canadian Media division stabilized after a difficult beginning to the year.
The owner of the Toronto Star and other newspapers, Harlequin books and numerous websites posted net income equivalent to $2.87 per share in the three month period, an increase from $23.7-million or 30 cents per share a year ago.
That included a gain of $190.1-million from the sale of the assets formerly known as CTVglobemedia.
Excluding the impact of the CTV sale and a loss from associated businesses in 2010, Torstar's net income would have been $38.2-million or 47 cents per share in 2011, up from $30.4-million or 39 cents per share a year earlier.
Quarterly earnings in its media division were flat year-over-year, and the company says that there is still "limited visibility" for print advertising, stalled by the economic recovery.
Net debt as of June 30 fell to $108.1-million, down from $373.8 million at March 31.
"Results continue to be mixed in 2011," said David Holland, Torstar's president and chief executive officer.
He noted that the Harlequin book publishing division saw its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fall by $4.7-million in the quarter.
"On the Canadian Media operations, earnings stabilized in the second quarter, an improvement relative to the decline experienced in the first quarter," Mr. Holland said.
"We are focused on growing our revenue base and numerous digital initiatives are contributing to the revenue growth experience in the second quarter. We were pleased with the 33 per cent digital revenue growth experienced in the quarter."
During the quarter, Torstar acquired beauty website TheKit.ca and announced it will begin distributing print editions of satirical newspaper The Onion in the city, beginning in the fall.
The company has been struggling in the turbulent media market as readership declines as more people turn to the free digital format, where advertisers pay significantly less than they were in an already weak ad market.
Torstar has about 6,600 employees across its operations, which includes the Star Media Group led by the Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper and digital properties including Thestar.com, Toronto.com, Travelalerts.ca, daily deal website WagJag.com, Workopolis, Olive Media, and EyeReturn Marketing.
The company also owns the Metro free daily newspaper chain, Metroland Media Group, publishers of community and daily newspapers in Ontario, as well as Harlequin Books - the world's biggest publisher of romance fiction.