Corus optimistic for fiscal 2010

Canadian b'caster revises profit guidance in economic rebound

TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster Corus Entertainment on Tuesday bumped up its fiscal 2010 profit projection to CAN$255 million ($235 million) to CAN$270 million ($248.5 million) to reflect an "optimistic outlook" for the Canadian economy and its own growth plans.

Toronto-based Corus revised its guidance upwards from January 2009 when it issued a profit warning as advertisers pulled back in a slowing economy.

At the time, Corus said it was targeting a fiscal 2009 profit of between CAN$255 million to CAN$265 million, down from previous CAN$270 to CAN$280 million profit guidance.

Corus has yet to issue full-year 2009 earnings, but did point Tuesday to a rebound in TV advertising spending nationally.

"There seems to be a broad-based consensus that, in calendar 2010, there will be strong levels of spending," Corus Television president Paul Robertson said during an investors day presentation in Toronto.

"We know customer confidence is coming back. Everyone of our agency partners... renewed their upfront agreements with us for levels of revenue that were level or greater than a year ago," he said of upfront ad sales.

TV represents the bulk of Corus' operating profits as it operates cable channels like Teletoon and YTV and premium TV networks, including Movie Central and HBO Canada.

In the kids TV market, Corus food advertising remains under pressure, while toy and entertainment categories are growing.

Corus expects "modest" growth in airtime revenue for its kids TV properties as the Canadian economy slowly emerged from the economic downturn.

On Monday, the broadcaster said it will morph its YTV OneWorld digital channel into Nickelodeon Canada, in partnership with MTV Networks International (HR, Sept. 28).

As it reworks its kids TV properties, Corus is also to shut down Discovery Kids Canada, a digital channel it operates in partnership with U.S.-based Discovery Communications.

Aside from kids and family viewing, Corus is also targeting a female demo, with cable channels like W Network, Cosmopolitan TV, Viva and Dusk.

The broadcaster also has its eyes on two female-skewing cable channels now being shopped by rival Canwest Global Communications Corp., HGTV Canada and Food Network Canada.

Corus also runs Canadian cartoon producer Nelvana.