Corus Entertainment earnings slide

Posts profit of $13.8 mil for fourth quarter

TORONTO -- As a weakening economy dents advertising revenue industrywide, Canadian broadcaster Corus Entertainment on Thursday posted lower fourth-quarter earnings as its revenue flatlined.

Toronto-based Corus posted a profit of CAN$17.4 million ($13.8 million) for the three months to Aug. 31, compared with earnings of CAN$21.2 million in 2007.

Overall revenue came to CAN$185.8 million ($148 million), down 1% from a year-earlier CAN$187.2 million. Radio station revenue rose 3% to CAN$68.5 million ($54.5 million), while segment profit fell 13% to CAN$15.1 million ($12 million).

On the TV side, cable and pay TV channel revenue rose 1% to CAN$104.8 million ($83.5 million), led by specialty advertising growth of 5% and subscriber revenue growth up 2%. The fourth-quarter segment profit jumped 5% to CAN$35.7 million ($28.4 million).

And revenue from Nelvana, Corus' animation division, fell 27% to CAN$12.8 million ($10.2 million), as segment profit rose 15% to CAN$2.6 million ($2 million).

Corus CEO John Cassaday told analysts during a conference call that the company faced a "mixed bag" during the economic downturn, with Q1 radio ad revenue was pacing down as cable TV ad revenue was pacing ahead of 2007.

"We're not gilding the lily. This is going to be a tough year," Cassaday told analysts as he outlined measures to ensure continued growth at Corus.

The darkening outlook for domestic broadcasters cost rival Canwest Global Communications Corp., as its stock fell Thursday 11% to CAN$0.98 (78 cents) on the Toronto Stock Exchange, as it tipped penny-stock territory during afternoon trading.