Torstar first quarter results mixed

Torstar’s first quarter financials are out, and the results are mixed.

On the whole, compared to last year’s first quarter results, revenue is up $16.4-million, hitting $351.4-million. Net operating profit, however, is only $41.7-million, down $7.3-million compared to the first quarter in 2010.

Much of those mixed results rest on the proverbial shoulders of Torstar’s media division (and the strong Canadian dollar).

Total revenue for the media segment was $236-million, which is actually $13.8-million more than last year’s first quarter earnings. Digital revenue grew more than 30 per cent in Q1, making up just over 10 per cent of the media segment’s total revenue.

Print advertising revenue, however, was soft. Expenses also rose $19.3-million. Together, they contributed to bring the division’s net operating profit down.

Torstar’s Metroland group fared slightly better than the Star Media group. Metroland’s revenues rose $5.5-million to a total of $119.9-million. Digital revenue grew by nearly 50 per cent this past quarter, when compared to the first quarter in 2010. Metroland’s total operating profit fell only slightly to $15.4 million, a decrease of $0.6-million.

Star Media’s revenues hit $116.2-million, an increase of $8.4-million. Advertising revenues, however, were down 1.6 per cent with the Toronto Star showing declines across most advertising categories. Digital ad revenue was up about 25 per cent. Expenses, on the other hand, rose $13.3-million in the first quarter. This put total net operating profit down to $7-million, a decrease of $5-million from Q1 in 2010.

“This decline was due to an increase in investment spending initiatives,” says Torstar’s management’s  discussion and analysis report, “including the cross-segment digital initiatives.”