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Astral Media CEO Ian Greenberg

Tim Fraser

Astral Media Inc. has unveiled plans to boost its annual dividend by 50 per cent as it reported that second-quarter profit increased, but came in below analyst expectations.

The Montreal-based operator of pay and specialty television, radio, out-of-home advertising and digital media properties, said Thursday that its annual dividend would be increased to 75 cents on all class A and class B shares.

Astral said profit for the three months ended Feb. 28 increased 3 per cent to $34.8-million from $33.6-million in the year-earlier period. The results were equivalent to 61 cents per share, below analyst expectations of 63 cents per share, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

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Revenue increased 7 per cent to $232.7-million, above expectations of $230.6-million, and above year-ago results of $218.3-million.

Meanwhile, the company also announced the appointment of Jacques Parisien to the new position of executive vice-president and chief operating officer.

"I am pleased by the growth we experienced in the second quarter of fiscal 2011 and am delighted that all our business units continue to contribute to our performance quarter after quarter," president and CEO Ian Greenberg said in a release.

"While benefiting from an improved economic landscape, we maintain our focus on gaining additional operational efficiencies throughout the organization," Greenberg added.

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