money digest


Astral doubles Q2 earnings

Astral Media on Monday more than doubled its second-quarter earnings thanks to a major radio acquisition and a CAN$28.3 million ($27.7 million) income tax recovery. The Canadian broadcaster earned CAN$57.3 million ($56 million) during the quarter ending Feb. 28 compared with a profit of CAN$24.6 million in 2007. Excluding the income tax recovery, Astral earned CAN$29 million ($28.4 million). Revenue rose 38% to CAN$206.9 million ($203 million), compared with CAN$149.9 million a year ago. Radio revenue jumped from CAN$25.7 million a year ago to CAN$76 million ($74.5 million) after Astral became Canada's largest radio station operator with its purchase of rival Standard Broadcasting last year. Cable TV channel and premium pay TV revenue came to CAN$118.7 million ($116.3 million) compared with CAN$115 million in 2007.

Microsoft a good fit for Yahoo

Microsoft's bid to buy Yahoo likely would be approved by U.S. and European regulators while an expanded partnership between the Internet giant and rival Google could prove "troublesome," a UBS analyst said Monday. Software analyst Heather Bellini said she sees a Microsoft-Yahoo deal "as relatively low risk" and estimates only a 15%-25% chance that the deal would be nixed by regulators. "Assuming a friendly transaction, approval could take four to six months in the U.S. and eight to nine months in the European Union," Bellini said. She said she "would not be surprised to see a deal struck sometime this week" between Microsoft and Yahoo for more than $31 per share. Yahoo shares closed down 1.9% to $27.80 on Monday.

Philips profit tumbles 28%

Philips Electronics reported a bigger-than-expected 28% drop in quarterly core profit Monday as its television business sank deeper into the red and warned of slowing economic growth in mature markets. First-quarter earnings before interest, tax and amortization fell from €370 million a year ago to €265 million ($419 million). "Our results are clouded, more than we like, by the adverse situation in our TV business, significantly lower incidental license income and some acquisition-related charges," Philips CEO Gerard Kleisterlee said. The company's TV business is suffering from tough competition, especially in the U.S., from low-cost rivals like Taiwanese Amtran's Vizio brand.